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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 May, 2005, 02:40 GMT 03:40 UK
Australia air disaster kills 15
All 15 people aboard a plane that crashed near a remote Aboriginal township in northern Australia are confirmed dead, police say.

The burning wreckage of the twin propeller aircraft was found on a hillside in dense forest about 11km (7 miles) north-west of its destination.

The Fairchild Metroliner was travelling in northern Queensland from Bamaga to Lockhart River on Saturday.

The crash was Australia's worst civil aviation disaster in nearly 40 years.

A full-scale search was launched at 1130 local time on Saturday (0130 GMT) when the plane failed to reach the airstrip.

After the wreckage was discovered, state police spokeswoman Kirsten Roos told the Associated Press news agency: "We've just had a police officer winched in who has confirmed there are no signs of life."

There were 13 passengers and two pilots on board, including a local policewoman. Officials said the plane sent no distress signals before it disappeared.

It was the worst air disaster in Australia since 1968, when a plane crash in the west of the country killed 26 people.

Lockhart River is a former Anglican mission home to an Aboriginal community of some 350 members.

It is known for a group of critically acclaimed Aboriginal artists called the Lockhart River Gang whose works sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Sydney says the area around Lockhart River is not a popular tourist destination and that it was likely most of the passengers were from the local indigenous population.

The Australian government, he adds, said it was deeply concerned about the crash and has pledged to do all it can to help investigators find out what happened.

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