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On Monday, a local postal official said a passenger plane with 54 people on board that crashed in the mountains of eastern Indonesia, was carrying nearly half a million dollars in government cash for poor families to help offset a spike in fuel prices.

According to rescue officials, on Monday morning wreckage of the Trigana Air Service turboprop plane was spotted from the air in a rugged area of the easternmost province of Papua.  Much of Papua is covered with jungles and mountains, in which some planes have crashed in the past only to never be found.

It is unknown if there were any survivors from Sunday’s crash, which happened as a result of bad weather.  Haryono, the head of the post office in Jayapura, the provincial capital, told The Associated Press that four postal workers aboard the plane were escorting four bags of cash totaling $468,750 in government fuel aid.

The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was flying from Jayapura to the city of Oksibil at the time it lost contact. Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said there was no evidence that the pilot had made a distress call.

According to officials the wreckage was spotted about 7miles from Oksibil. Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said search and rescue teams were preparing to try to reach the crash site by air and foot.

Soelistyo who is leading the rescue operation from Sentani Airport in Jayapura, said elite forces from the air force and army will build a helipad for evacuation purposes near the crash site. Ludiyanto, who heads the search and rescue operation from Jayapura confirmed that search planes went out early Monday after residents of a village close to Oksibil told local police that they saw a plane flying low before crashing into a mountain.

The airline’s crisis center official in Jayapura’s Sentani airport, Budiono, said all the passengers on board are Indonesians.  According to Budiono among the passengers were three local government officials and two members of the local parliament who were to attend a ceremony Monday in Oksibil marking the 70th anniversary of Indonesia’s independence from Dutch colonial rule.

At the time of the crash, the plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on a scheduled 42-minute flight. Five children, including two infants, were among the passengers.


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