Indonesian plane loses contact in eastern Papua

A small private plane carrying five people lost contact with Indonesian authorities Wednesday, prompting a search and rescue mission in eastern Papua province, an official said.

The Pilatus Porter PC-6 aircraft disappeared off the radar at midday Wednesday after taking off on a short flight across Papua - a remote, mountainous region.

"If not mistaken there were five people on board," Yusuf Latif, a spokesman at the search and rescue agency told AFP.

He added that the plane belonged to Associated Mission Aviation (AMA) - a private company operating flights in and around Papua.

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.

Papua is a particularly difficult area to reach.

A passenger plane with 146 people on board skidded off the runway in May as it landed in the province.

In August 2015, a commercial passenger aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana crashed in Papua due to bad weather, killing all 54 people on board.

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