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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian airliner carrying 54 people that went missing Sunday was found amidst mountains in the region. It lost contact with ground control while flying in bad weather on a short flight in the country's mountainous easternmost province of Papua, officials said.
The Trigana Air Service plane was flying from Papua's provincial capital, Jayapura, to the Papua city of Oksibil when it lost contact with Oksibil's airport, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Julius Barata.
The ATR42-300 twin turboprop plane was carrying 49 passengers and five crew members on the scheduled 42-minute journey, he said. Five children, including three infants, were among the passengers.
The weather was poor near Oksibil, with heavy rain, strong winds and fog, when the plane lost contact with the airport nine minutes before it was scheduled to land, said Susanto, the head of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency.
A plane was sent to look for the missing airliner, but the search was later suspended due to darkness, said Susanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. The search operation will continue Monday morning, he said.
Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. Some planes that have crashed there in the past have never been found.
Indonesia has had its share of airline woes in recent years. The sprawling archipelago nation of 250 million people and some 17,000 islands is one of Asia's most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide enough qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.
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