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Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2007

Search resumes for Indonesian jet that crashed in sea

Three from Oregon were aboard flight

January 4, 2007

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— Rescuers scoured the ocean for a missing jetliner Wednesday, one day after senior Indonesian officials erroneously said the Boeing 737's charred wreckage had been found in a remote mountainous area and that a dozen people may have survived.

Three navy ships set sail soon after sunrise in the Makkasar Strait and five air force planes took off to search for signs of wreckage, said Bambang Karnoyudho, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

Karnoyudho said that based on radar and satellite readings, he thought it most likely that the plane had fallen into the sea. "God willing, we can find it soon," he told The Associated Press.

Adam Air Flight KI-574, carrying 102 people, was flying from Indonesia's main island of Java to North Sulawesi's provincial capital of Manado when it disappeared Monday in stormy weather after sending out distress signals - one over mountainous jungles and the other along the coast.

Three Oregonians were on board: Scott Jackson, a 54-year-old wood-products industry representative, and his daughters, 21-year-old Stephanie and 18-year-old Lindsey, the Oregonian newspaper reported. It was unclear whether any other foreigners were on the plane.

Air Force Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Mudjianto, whose team followed the plane's scheduled flight path to the site where its last distress signal was picked up, said visibility was good early Wednesday, but they had found no signs of the 120-foot-long plane.

Strong wind and rain forced surveillance planes back to base later in the day, and a severe storm was heading toward the island and due to hit today.

Aviation experts say the search has been bogged down by bad weather, a potentially damaged emergency locator and dense, remote island terrain.

"In an area of low population density, particularly if it is in inhospitable terrain - such as jungle, or a deep ravine or covered by a canopy - it could sit for a long time without being found," said Laurence Benn, head of the Center for Civil Aviation in London.

The plane's tracking technology may have been destroyed upon impact, but even if an emergency transponder signal went off, there may be interference weakening the signal, Benn said.

"The locator beacon also has a limited battery life," he added.

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