Jakarta. Rescuers in Indonesia were Friday still unable to reach the wreckage of an airplane with 18 people on board that crashed Thursday into a thickly-forested mountain on Sumatra island.
Helicopters were forced to return to their base because of bad weather while soldiers and civilian rescuers battled rugged terrain, said local military commander Lieutenant Colonel Heri Rustandi.
“We may have to reach the plane by rappelling down from helicopters,” he said.
Two rescue workers rappelled down a rope and landed about 300 meters away, but they were prevented from reaching it by a valley separating them from the wreckage, rescue coordinator Agus Wibisono told Metro TV.
There are no reports as to how many passengers, if any, survived.
Hopes that any passengers were alive rose after news reports that the plane crash-landed on a forest canopy, and a relative received a brief telephone call from a passenger saying they were all safe.
But Metro TV said the CASA C-212, made in Indonesia in 1989 on license from Spain, appeared to have crashed into land, with its nose and left wing damaged.
The channel showed pictures of the plane taken from the air.
The plane lost radio contact Thursday morning, about 20 minutes after it took off from Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, for Aceh on the tip of Sumatra island.
The crash comes after two deadly crashes in September involving small planes in Indonesia.