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Indonesia expands search for missing plane

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Rescue teams on Monday scoured the sea and trekked through rugged terrain on a central Indonesian island in an expanding search for a plane carrying 10 people that vanished three days ago.

[MAKASSAR] Rescue teams on Monday scoured the sea and trekked through rugged terrain on a central Indonesian island in an expanding search for a plane carrying 10 people that vanished three days ago.

The search and rescue agency said one of its teams may have located the wreckage of the Aviastar plane on land, but cautioned that officials would only be able to confirm whether it had been found on Tuesday.

The Twin Otter DHC-6 aircraft carrying four adult passengers, three children and three crew lost contact Friday with air traffic control shortly after taking off from Masamba airport on Sulawesi island en route for the city of Makassar to the south.

After two days of hunting on land in remote terrain failed to turn up any sign of the missing aircraft, the search area was extended Monday to include a gulf, with four boats and four planes scouring the waters, the rescue agency said.

The effort also expanded on land, and search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said that a team of rescuers and local people had reported spotting the plane's main body in a remote location.

But he said the information was not yet confirmed, and he would head to the site himself by plane early Tuesday to confirm the sighting.

Aviastar is an Indonesian domestic passenger airline.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered a string of deadly plane crashes in recent times.

AFP