The death toll from the crash of an Indonesian air force transport plane in the city of Medan has risen to 141, police said Wednesday (Jul 1).
"We have received 141 bodies," Agustinus Tarigan, a police official at a hospital in the city, told AFP. The Hercules C-130 plane crashed and exploded in a ball of flames in a residential area of the western city on Tuesday, heavily damaging buildings and reducing cars to flaming wrecks.
The air force revised up the number of people on board the plane to 122, including 12 crew. Previously they said there were 113 people on the aircraft.
The plane crashed into a newly-built residential area in the city of two million people, hitting a massage parlour and a hotel. Search and rescue officials previously confirmed at least three people on the ground had died.
Rescuers were using heavy machinery to clear mountains of debris from the crash site on Wednesday in the hunt for more bodies.
The disaster once again shone a harsh light on Indonesia's poor aviation safety record. It came just six months after an AirAsia plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.
It also raised questions about the Indonesian military's aircraft - it was the sixth fatal crash involving an Indonesian air force plane in the past decade, according to the Aviation Safety Network. Following the crash, Supriatna said the military was grounding some of its Hercules planes.
The plane involved in Tuesday's accident took off at 12.08pm (1.08pm Singapore time) from the airbase and crashed in the city about two minutes later, about five kilometres from the base, according to the military.
Shortly after take-off, the pilot had asked to return to base, Supriatna said, adding the aircraft might have suffered engine trouble. But he added the jet was in "very good condition" and had made several stops before arriving in Medan.
It was the second time in a decade that Medan had suffered a fatal plane accident. A Mandala Airlines domestic flight crashed shortly after take-off in 2005 into a densely populated suburb, killing at least 150 including passengers, crew and people on the ground.
Medan is the biggest Indonesian city outside the main island of Java and a major economic centre.