Searchers on for missing Indonesian plane in Sulawesi

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Searchers scoured waters off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island Monday on the third day of efforts to find a small plane that went missing with 10 people on board.

The DHC-6 Twin Otter operated by domestic airline Aviastar lost contact Friday about 11 minutes after takeoff from the town of Masamba en route to Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province.

“Two fixed-wing aircraft, a helicopter and a rescue boat are being deployed,” said Heronimus Guru, deputy chief of operations at the National Search and Rescue Agency.

Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said authorities were investigating a report that the plane did not fly the determined route, instead taking a shortcut in violation of regulations.

Jonan said the airline’s Masamba-Makassar service had been suspended pending the result of an investigation by the National Transport Safety Committee.

Indonesia, which has a reputation for poor aviation safety, has experienced four deadly air accidents since December.

In August, an ATR 42-300 plane operated by Trigana Air Service crashed into a mountain in Papua province, killing 54 people on board.

In June, at least 141 people were killed after an Indonesian Air Force C-130 plane crashed into a residential area in Medan, North Sumatra and burst into flames.

AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo midway from Surabaya to Singapore late December, killing all 162 people on board.

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