Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - The Search and Rescue (SAR) Agency in Biak, Papua, continued its search operation, Friday, to locate a helicopter carrying food supplies that reportedly went missing en route from Nabire to Baya Biru in Paniai, Thursday.

The sweeping aerial operation involved two helicopters, dispatched from Enarotali, the capital of Paniai District, and Timika, the capital of Mimika District, Head of the Biak SAR Agency Gusti Anwar Mulyadi informed ANTARA here, Friday.

The Biak-based SAR Agency and Australia's equipment were unable to yet detect signals of the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) carried aboard the ill-fated helicopter, Mulyadi stated.

The PT National Utility Helicopters (NUH)-owned helicopter was piloted by Captain Endy Nawalaga. He was assisted by Co-pilot Captain Erik Kurniawan and a crew member named M. Aswar Jamal.

The helicopter carrying food supplies took off from Nabire District to Baya Biru in Paniai District on Thursday (Sept 17) at 10:47 a.m. local time, but it reportedly lost contact at 1:30 p.m. local time.

On Thursday afternoon, a Smart Air aircraft attempted to trace the flight route of the missing helicopter, though it failed to locate it.

Mulyadi said he had yet to know the causes of this air accident, but his team members would focus their search operation on Baya Biru's surrounding areas where conditions remained overcast on Friday morning.

Papua Province has frequently in the past few years borne witness to air accidents.

On Sept 18, 2019, for instance, a Twin Otter aircraft, hauling State Logistics Agency's (Bulog's) rice packages, went missing en route from the Moses Kilangain Airport in Timika, Mimika District, to Ilaga, the capital city of Puncak District, Papua Province.

Dasep was the pilot of the missing aircraft that also had onboard a flight officer, engineer, and passenger during the flight.

The aircraft, bearing registration number K-CDC RTB, took off from Timika's airport at 10:36 a.m. local time and was expected to land at Ilaga at 11:09 a.m. local time.

However, until 11:35 a.m. local time, it had yet to arrive at Ilaga, prompting aviation authorities to then issue an INCERFA status at 11:40 a.m. local time to notify of an uncertain phase of the safety of the aircraft and those on board.

An intensive search operation conducted for several days resulted in the discovery of this Twin Otter aircraft.

On June 28, 2019, the Indonesian Army's MI-17 helicopter also went missing after taking off from Oksibil, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province.

Factors, including erratic weather conditions and difficulties on the ground owing to inaccessibility to roads, hindered the search operation to locate the helicopter.

Consequently, search efforts were undertaken through sweeping aerial operations.

The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138 and carrying 12 passengers and crew members on board, 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.

The wreckage from this army's helicopter crash had finally been found on one of the slopes of Mandala's mountainous area in Oksop Sub-district, Pegunungan Bintang District, Papua Province, on Feb 10, 2020.
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Translator: Evarukdijati, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2020