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Indonesia military plane crash deaths top 140

More than 140 people were killed when a military transport plane crashed into a residential area in the Indonesian city of Medan, crushing buildings and cars during its descent, officials said early Wednesday.

The death toll from the crash Tuesday continued to rise as bodies were pulled from the wreckage of the C-130 Hercules aircraft, which carried military personnel and their families. It was unclear how many people were on the plane and how many were killed in buildings or elsewhere.

“Five members of my family were on the plane,” a man identified as Jansen told the Jakarta-based broadcaster Metro TV, sobbing. “I appeal to authorities to keep us informed about the fate of our families.”

Sairi Saragih, a spokeswoman at Adam Malik Hospital, said 142 bodies had been recovered by early Wednesday. No survivors had been found, officials said.

Indonesian military officials said 113 people, including military personnel and their relatives, were aboard the plane when it departed from Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials said some people may have gotten off or on the plane, which had stopovers in Pekanbaru, Dumai and Medan.

The C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop military transport plane, crashed at 12:08 p.m. Tuesday, about two minutes after it took off from Soewondo air force base in Medan, officials said.

The plane was bound for Tanjung Pinang, a city on Indonesia's Bintan island, to drop off supplies, said Indonesian Air Marshal Agus Supriatna.

The pilot asked to return to the base because of an engine problem, then banked right and crashed about three miles from the base, he said.

Zani Nasution, a Medan resident, told Metro TV that he saw the plane wobbling before it fell, emitting sparks and fire. “There was a loud explosion,” he told the broadcaster.

Indonesian television showed small clusters of people dousing the flaming wreckage with fire hoses as it sat amid piles of smoldering rubble. Police sealed off the crash site as ambulances ferried bodies to the hospital, according to local reports. By late afternoon, excavators had been dispatched to the scene, and large crowds of people had gathered to watch the effort unfold.

The Indonesian military operates 28 Lockheed C-130 cargo aircraft similar to the one that crashed.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday evening that the government would conduct an audit of its military equipment to ensure safety. “This and previous accidents are all the more reason we must modernize our military equipment,” he said.

Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, was the site of another aviation disaster on Sept. 5, 2005, when a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed into a residential area shortly after takeoff, killing more than 140 people.

In December 2014, a passenger jet operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a subsidiary of the Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia, crashed into the Java Sea while carrying 162 people from Surabaya to Singapore, killing everyone onboard.

Special correspondent Pathoni reported from Jakarta and Times staff writer Kaiman from Bangkok, Thailand.

Follow @JRKaiman on Twitter for news from Asia

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

9:02 p.m.: This article has been updated with a new death toll and additional details.

9:48 a.m.: This article has been updated with the death toll rising to 74, additional information on the number of people aboard and details about the crash and the surrounding scene.

8:18 a.m.: This article has been updated with a new death toll and reports of excavators being sent to the crash site.

4:19 a.m.: This article has been updated with a new estimated death toll from the crash.

This article was originally published at 3:18 a.m.

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