The wreckage of a new Russian passenger jet has been found on the steep slope of a dormant volcano in Indonesia, about one mile away from where it vanished from radar screens 20 minutes after taking off from an air base near Jakarta on Wednesday.
Dramatic television footage of the crash site showed splinters of the plane and a large divot it left in the mountain, but no big pieces of fuselage. Authorities believe none of the 45 people on board the Sukhoi Superjet-100 survived. One American was among the passengers. He was identified on a manifest posted on Twitter as Peter Adler. An Indonesian news report said he was a consultant for Sriwijaya Air, a domestic Indonesian carrier.
The plane was conducting a demonstration flight for potential buyers of the new aircraft. Others on board included journalists, government and military officials as well as representatives for various Indonesian airlines.
The plane slammed into a ridge the side of Mount Salak about 5,500 feet up. Just before the plane dropped off the map the pilot requested permission to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet. Russian news agency RIA Novasti reported yesterday that the plane was seen turning towards the mountain range before it disappeared.
Rescue crews have been dispatched, but it is reportedly a grueling six- to eight-hour hike to the crash site. Indonesian authorities have also dropped a team in by helicopter.
Efforts to locate the plane on Wednesday were hampered by dense mist. Helicopters sent to find it had to turn back. Meanwhile, families of those on board gathered at Halim Air Base where the plane took off from, eager for news.
The plane was one of two sent on a six-country swing through Asia to promote the new jet and demonstrate it to potential buyers. Russian authorities had hoped it would mark the triumphant return of Russia’s civilian aircraft industry. If it is determined that the crash was caused by mechanical error, however, the incident will be just the latest in a string of embarrassing and fatal incidents that has earned Russia the reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for air travel.
In a statement posted on Facebook yesterday, Olga Kayukova, a spokeswoman for Sukhoi’s parent company the United Aircraft Corporation, said that the plane has been properly inspected before taking off. She said the other plane on the promotional tour had flown without problems earlier in the day.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has reportedly set up a commission to investigate the cause of the crash. The plane’s black box recorders have not yet been recovered.
ABC News’ Dada Jovanovic and the Associated Press contributed to this report.