Magelang, C Java (ANTARA) - Army Chief of Staff Gen. Andika Perkasa has hinted that search efforts to locate the Indonesian Army's MI-17 helicopter, going missing in Papua Province since June 28, will be continued.

"The joint search operation is expected to be continued. We are optimistic that all Indonesians will pray for the immediate finding of the missing helicopter," he told journalists after inauguration of the military academy's graduates here on Monday.

On Monday, the search operation to trace the helicopter was conducted by the regional military command's personnel along with those from the National Search and Rescue Agency (SAR) and the Indonesian Defence Forces' Headquarters, he remarked.

However, the SAR's efforts to locate the missing helicopter after taking off from Oksibil, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, on June 28, were hindered by factors including the erratic weather conditions and difficulties on ground due to inaccessibility to roads.

Consequently, search efforts were conducted through sweeping aerial operations, Perkasa revealed.

Since the day of its missing, search efforts to locate the helicopter have been steadily made by involving a Bell Helicopter 206 and Bell Helicopter 412 bearing registration number HA-5177.

On Sunday afternoon, search for the MI 17 helicopter was conducted by land and aerial operations but to no avail.

Deputy Chief of Information for the Cenderawasih Regional Military Command Lt Col Inf Dax Sianturi remarked that members of the joint SAR team had conducted the search in the villages of Bulangkop and Tangen but had failed to locate the helicopter.

The sweeping aerial operations also yielded no result. Overcast conditions since Sunday morning hampered aerial search efforts, he revealed.

The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138, was carrying 12 passengers and crew members on board, who had earlier flown to Okbibab to deliver logistics to soldiers serving in the area.

The crew members aboard the helicopter were pilots CPN Captain Aris and CPN Lieutenant Bambang, co-pilot First Lieutenant CPN Ahwar, Head Sergeant Suriyatna, Sergeant Dita, Head Private Dwi Purnomo, and Private Aharul.

The passengers, who were members of the Battalion 725/WRG, comprised Second Sergeant Ikrar Setya Nainggolan, Private Yanuarius Loe, Private Risno, Second Private Sujono Kaimuddin, and Second Private Tegar Hadi Sentana. EDITED BY INE

Translator: Heru Suyitno, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Eliswan Azly
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