12 bodies found near Indonesia jet crash site


Search teams found at least 12 bodies Friday near where a Russian-made jetliner crashed into the side of an Indonesian volcano while on a demonstration flight for potential buyers from airlines, an official said.

All 45 aboard the Sukhoi Superjet-100 are feared dead.

"Today we have discovered 12 victims, all dead," Rear Marshal Daryatmo, head of the national search and rescue agency, told reporters today.

The search team used ropes to climb up to the wreckage on the near-vertical slopes of Mount Salak, search and rescue agency spokesman Gagah Prakoso said. The 10 bodies they found are being prepared to be transported from the crash site by helicopter.

Local television showed what appeared to be the plane's tail with the blue-and-white Sukhoi logo, part of a wing and bits of twisted metal scattered along the slope like confetti.

The jetliner slammed into the dormant volcano Wednesday at nearly 800 kph (480 mph). Russian and French investigators have arrived to join the ongoing investigation into the cause.

The Superjet-100 is Russia's first new model of passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union two decades ago and was intended to help resurrect its aerospace industry.

The ill-fated Superjet was carrying representatives from local airlines and journalists on what was supposed to be a 50-minute demonstration flight. Just 21 minutes after takeoff from a Jakarta airfield, the Russian pilot and co-pilot asked for permission to drop from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet (3,000 meters to 1,800 meters). They gave no explanation, disappearing from the radar immediately afterward.

It was not clear why the crew asked to shift course, especially since they were so close to the 7,000-foot (2,200-meter) volcano, or whether they got an OK, officials have said.

Communication tapes will be reviewed as part of the investigation, but it's unlikely they will be released to the public any time soon.