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The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"It has taken almost two days for the wreckage to be located"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 08:11 GMT
Missing plane found in Indonesia
Irian Jaya
The plane vanished in bad weather
Search and rescue teams in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya have found the wreckage of a plane that disappeared on Monday carrying top security officials.

A military official told the BBC that six bodies had been spotted, including those of the provincial military and police chiefs and the speaker of the local parliament.

Three other passengers are still missing, including a senior member of the attorney-general's office.

The cause of the crash is not yet clear. The head of the Indonesian Search and Rescue Authority, speaking before the plane was found, said there was no evidence linking it to the separatist conflict in the province.

Missing since Monday

The plane went missing on Monday over a mountainous jungle region while flying from the mining town of Timika, to the provincial capital Jayapura.

It was spotted on a steep mountainside near Wamena, at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres.

The army helicopter team which found the wreck has not been able to land at the site because of bad weather and rough terrain.

Air traffic control lost contact with the small military craft about 12 minutes after it took off from Timika.

The passengers had attended the swearing-in of the members of the Enarotali district parliament on Monday.

The Governor of Irian Jaya, Jaap Salossa, was scheduled to have been on the plane, but he changed aircraft at the last moment.

The route from Timika to Jayapura crosses some of Indonesia's most remote jungle and mountainous areas.

Independence struggle

Irian Jaya, Indonesia's most easterly province, forms the western half of New Guinea island and is rich in natural resources.

A suspect is arrested after the attack on the police station
Jakarta has cracked down on separatists
The province has few roads, and air travel is considered to be the only reliable form of transport.

Separatists have been struggling for independence for Irian Jaya ever since Indonesia took control of the former Dutch colony in 1963.

Jakarta has ruled out granting the region independence, but has promised greater autonomy.

Troops and police in Irian Jaya have recently taken tough action against the independence movement - but there is no suggestion at the moment that the loss of the plane is connected with the separatist conflict.

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See also:

08 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia rules out plane sabotage
14 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Irian Jaya activists call for UN help
30 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Ferment in Irian Jaya
29 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
Irian Jaya separatists held
04 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Irian Jaya declared independent
21 Jan 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Papuan dreams of independence
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