May 20, 2009 (by Asif Shamim) - An Indonesian airforce C-130 transport plane carrying troops and their families crashed on the island of Java, killing at least 97 people, including several people on the ground, officials announced.
The C-130 believed to be #A-1325
was on route to Eastern Java came down close to Iswahyudi air force base, hitting houses in the village of Geplak before skidding into rice fields around 06:30h local time (23:30h GMT).
Visibility appears to have been good and there is no indication yet of what caused the crash. The C-130 was believed to be in good repair and there was contact with the crew just moments before the plane went down, a military spokesman said.
The aircraft was almost completely destroyed in the crash; wreckage was strewn across rice fields and only the tail was left intact.
The C-130 Hercules had been carrying about 110 passengers and crew. Ten children were reported to have been on board. Fifteen passengers, some with bad burns survived.
Rescue teams have been pulling the dead and injured from the smoking debris.
Eyewitness reports spoke of a possible explosion before the plane came down. Another villager said some aircraft parts including nuts and bolts fell from the sky.
"One of the wings fell off... Then the plane nose-dived into the houses."
Indonesia's air force has long complained of being underfunded and handicapped by a US ban on weapons sales, which has been recently lifted.
It has suffered a series of accidents, including one involving a Fokker 27 plane that crashed into an airport hangar in western Java last month, killing all 24 aboard.
An Indonesian air force Hercules overshot the runway at Wamena airport in Papua on May 10th. One person was reportedly injured in that incident.
The airforce has responded to incident by checking the remaining C-130s in the fleet which are currently in the process of being updated.