Mon, 08 Aug 1994

Search workers spot helicopter wreckage

JAKARTA (JP): Search and rescue workers spotted the wreckage of a helicopter in the thick jungle on a mountain slope in East Kalimantan on Friday just as they were giving up their efforts to trace a Sikorsky that had gone missing since July 26.

"The wreckage lies about nine kilometers northwest of a base camp in Bulungan," Rusmana of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in Jakarta said on Saturday. "There were no signs of life around the wreckage."

He said it was not certain whether the wreckage belonged to the Sikorsky, or of another helicopter that has been missing since May.

The Sikorsky, owned by the private operator Air Fast Indonesia and rented by a logging company, was carrying 18 people on board when it disappeared on July 26 only five minutes after taking off Tabang, the company's base camp.

The government had originally planned to abandon the search on Wednesday but decided to extend it till Saturday at the insistence of the logging company.

Now the search has been extended again after they spotted the wreckage but because of the rough terrain, it might take a few days before they can actually get to the site. "The officers have to climb the steep mountain slopes and cut through thick jungles to reach the location," Rusmana said.

The helicopter that went missing in May also belonged to Air Fast and was carrying two people. (rms)