N. Zealand pilot dies in plane crash in Indonesia's Papua

A New Zealand pilot and two Indonesians were killed after a helicopter chartered by the Indonesian arm of US mining company Freeport-McMoRan crashed in remote Papua province, a company spokesman said Sunday.

The helicopter crashed on Saturday in Mimika district, where Freeport operates its giant Grasberg gold and copper mine.

Rescuers on Sunday morning found the crash site in a valley, Freeport Indonesia spokesman Ramdani Sirait told AFP.

"Three passengers were found dead and were being taken to a hospital," he said, adding they were two Freeport Indonesia contract workers and a New Zealand pilot, whom police identified as Srirama Trisnan.

"There was bad weather conditions, so the pilot tried to turn back, but the tower lost contact with him," Timika police chief Denny Siregar told AFP on Saturday.

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport and has a poor aviation record, particularly in mountainous remote areas such as Papua.

In September, an Australian and a Slovak pilot were killed when their small Cessna aircraft went down carrying fuel and food to Papua.

Another small aircraft, which was also transporting supplies to remote villages for a Christian humanitarian association in Papua, crashed two weeks later, killing its American pilot and two passengers.

by Simon Martin © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Mar 18, 2012