Batam (ANTARA News) - Search and Rescue Team on Sunday mobilized its divers to find victims of a police transport aircraft that went down in the waters off Pulau Lingga in southern Riau Islands.

"Today a divers team is deployed to locate victims of yesterdays plane crash," Riau Islands police chief, Brigadier General Sam Budgusdian said here, Sunday.

The bodies, he said, were assumed to be drowned after the plane crashed and exploded.

"Until yesterday, debris of the plane were still seen in the water surface near the crash site. But today, we cannot see them anymore, thus we need to dive," he added.

The water was relatively calm on Sunday afternoon, and the search operation is expected to bring positive results.

"Basarnas (national search and rescue team) has divided the searching area into four sectors involving several ships," Sam said.

Earlier in the day, a spokesman of Riau Islands police Adjunct Senior Commissioner S Erlangga said, the authority has mobilized some 16 vessels, two helicopters, one aircraft and 151 personnel to locate the survivors and recover the wreckage as of Sunday.

The joint task force comprises the Basarnas, the coast guard, navy as well as the Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) in Singapore.

A body was recovered on late Saturday and was brought to Batam for further identification.

"To confirm the identity, it would need further identification process," Erlangga said.

He said there were a total of 13 people, including the pilot and crew members on the plane.

Search and rescue (SAR) operations first started shortly after the twin-engine aircraft operated by the Indonesian police lost contact with Singapore air traffic control in the countrys Flight Information Region at 11.22 a.m Singapore time.

The plane took off at 10.24 a.m Singapore time and was expected to arrive in Batam at 11.58 a.m.

Local fishermen had found wreckage of the Polish-made M-28 Skytruck off Pulau Senayang, in Riau Islands province, at 11.30 a.m local time.

Before it plunged, a loud explosion was heard by local residents. (*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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