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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 January 2007, 15:54 GMT
Search resumes for Indonesian jet
A woman waits for news at the airport in Surabaya
Relatives of those on board are distraught
Indonesian military ships and aircraft have been searching for a passenger plane that went missing on Monday.

The plane, carrying 102 people, went out of contact as it was flying from Java to northern Sulawesi. Officials reported receiving two distress calls.

The search resumed on Wednesday after rescue officials admitted that earlier reports that the plane and its passengers had been found were untrue.

Relatives are waiting anxiously for news, and are angry at the confusion.

Transport minister Hatta Radjasa admitted late on Tuesday that the reports of a crash site, bodies and survivors were based on incorrect rumours from local villagers.

'False hope'

Three navy ships and five military planes searched areas of southern and western Sulawesi on Wednesday, looking for something people thought they had already found.

They had given us hope of seeing our beloved relatives, but it was false hope
Dorce Sundalangi

Land units were making slow progress through the thick forest, a military spokesman said.

But no evidence of the plane or its passengers had been found as the search ended for the day.

The plane, a 17-year-old Boeing 737-400, was operated by Adam Air, a privately owned low-cost airline based in Jakarta which has so far had a reasonably good safety record.

Officials said the aircraft was about an hour from its destination, Manado, when it sent out two distress calls.

On Tuesday senior police and military officials said the plane had been found in a remote mountainous region of Sulawesi, and gave descriptions of the scene at the crash site.

But this information was later found to be incorrect and officials apologised for the mistake.

The families of those on board, who had been waiting for news at airports around the country, have arrived in the city of Makassar, close to where the plane is believed to have come down.

Rescue officials are holding regular briefings at the airport, to keep these relatives informed of their findings, and the airline has set up information centres at local hotels.

Map of Indonesia

But there is still a lot of anger and resentment against the authorities for their erroneous report.

"I don't understand how the authorities could be so heartless and spread rumours without thinking of the suffering of those waiting for news of their loved ones," Ima Kulata, awaiting word about her cousin and two nieces, told the Associated Press.

"They had given us hope of seeing our beloved relatives, but it was false hope," said Dorce Sundalangi, whose daughter was on the flight.

The media was equally accusatory. "The people have been lied to," said the Pikiran Umum daily. The Jakarta Post said that family members were now even more distraught than they had been before.

The air disaster happened just days after a ferry thought to be carrying some 600 people sank off the coast of Java.

Survivors from that disaster are still believed to be drifting at sea on life rafts, because bad weather has hampered the rescue effort.

On Wednesday, a group of 12 survivors was found alive after they climbed onto an unmanned oil rig.

Officials said 212 people had survived the sinking, but the chances of finding many more survivors receded as the days passed.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
How confusion ensued about the plane crash



SEE ALSO
Indonesia ferry survivors found
03 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Confusion over missing Java plane
02 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Plane crashes off Indonesia coast
22 Feb 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia crash 'due to weather'
01 Dec 04 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia jet crashes on take-off
05 Sep 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Air disasters timeline
02 Jan 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Indonesia
18 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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