70 dead in plane crash in Indonesia

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Medan, Indonesia — The death toll in the Tuesday crash of a military transport plane in Medan, Indonesia, has risen to 70, according to an Indonesian Red Cross official.

Air Marshal Agus Supriatna, the Indonesian air force commander, told reporters that at least 49 bodies had been recovered. Twenty-three of the bodies had been identified, he said.

Supriatna said the C-130 Hercules initially took off from Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Tuesday with about 113 people on board, but it’s not clear how many people were on the plane when it crashed. It made two stops along the way — in Pekanbaru and Dumai.

Supriatna initially told CNN there were 122 people aboard, including 12 crew members. But in a subsequent phone call, he said there were 113 aboard — 101 passengers and 12 crew members. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately known.

Smoke rose among scorched buildings in Medan after the plane crashed near a residential neighborhood.

Local television broadcast images of crowds gathering around the smoldering wreckage of the plane amid damaged buildings and a charred car.

It was unclear what caused the disaster.

Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya, an Indonesian military spokesman, said the aircraft, built in the United States in the 1960s, had been inspected and cleared to fly before it took off from Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan.

It was carrying logistical supplies for bases on other Indonesian islands.

The crash site is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the air base, he said.

Indonesia’s national news agency Antara reported that the plane hit a busy road that connects Medan with the highland tourist resort of Brastagi.