Passengers escape as plane splits in two on landing

An Indonesian passenger plane carrying more than 100 people veered off a runway as it landed in Papua, then snapped in half as it came to rest in a nearby river, a transport ministry official said today.

About 20 passengers and a member of the cabin crew on the Merpati Nusantara Airlines plane were injured in the accident and taken to hospital, the official said.

Several small domestic carriers serve Indonesia's sprawling archipelago and many have poor safety records.

The European Commission, which had barred all Indonesian airlines from its airspace, only last year lifted a ban on four Indonesian carriers - flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, Mandala, Airfast and Premiair - after they had improved safety standards.

The latest incident occurred when the Merpati Boeing 737-300 tried to land in Manokwari, in Papua, in the rain, said Herry Bakti, director general for air transport at the transport ministry.