Wreckage of Plane Found in Papua New Guinea

Rescuers in a helicopter saw no immediate signs of life Wednesday at the wreckage of a chartered plane that crashed while carrying 13 people to a tourist region of Papua New Guinea, the airline said.

Papua New Guinea Civil Aviation Authority head Joseph Kintau
told The Associated Press the plane was located in "extremely
difficult" terrain in a heavily forested region of mountains a day
after it disappeared, and that it was not clear whether there were
survivors.

A radio signal had been received and search and rescue officials
were attempting to access the site Wednesday, Kintau told The AP.
He said he had no other details.

Airlines PNG said in a statement later that the helicopter crew
that spotted the downed plane saw "no immediate signs of
activity" near the wreckage.

The plane, carrying 11 passengers and two crew, vanished Tuesday
morning in bad weather on approach to an airport nestled in the
rugged Kokoda region. Nine Australians, one Japanese and three
Papua New Guineans were on board.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the wreckage was
located at an altitude of 5,500 feet (1,676 meters) and weather
conditions were deteriorating again, making searchers' attempts to
reach the aircraft by helicopter and on foot very difficult.

"Given the crash site has been located, we have very, very
grave concerns about the safety and welfare of the nine
Australians, the three Papua New Guineans and the one Japanese
citizen on board the plane," Smith told parliament.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called the missing
plane "every family's worst nightmare" and said Australia would
deploy "all possible assets" to help find the aircraft.

The twin-engine plane left the capital of Port Moresby en route
to an airport near the Pacific island nation's Kokoda Track, a
mountainous 60-mile (100-kilometer) trail. The plane's crew radioed
air traffic controllers as it was approaching the airstrip, but the
aircraft never landed, said Allen Tyson, a spokesman for Airlines
PNG.

On board the plane were eight Australian tourists and an
Australian tour guide planning to walk the trail as part of a trek
organized by the adventure tour company No Roads Expeditions, the
company said in a statement. Another guide from Papua New Guinea
was also on board, the company said.


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