updated 8/2/2009 11:04:59 PM ET 2009-08-03T03:04:59

Police say heavy rain has delayed the search for a plane carrying 16 people that is believed to have crashed in eastern Indonesia.

Papua police spokesman Lt. Col. Agus Riyanto says he hopes search operations will resume later Monday.

The Twin Otter plane lost contact with officials on the ground as it flew over the remote Papua province on Sunday.

No trace of the aircraft has been found.

The aircraft was carrying enough fuel to keep it in the air for 3 1/2 hours, Capt. Nikmatullah, the director of operations of airline Merpati Nusantara, told Metro TV.

The plane was on a 50-minute journey from Sentani, a major airport in Papua, to the town of Oksibil, he said.

Jungles and mountains
Much of Papua is covered with impenetrable jungles and mountains. In the past, crashed planes have never been found.

Indonesia, a nation of more than 18,000 islands, has seen several major air crashes in recent years that have killed more than 220.

In 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian carriers from landing there. It recently lifted the ban on four of them, including Garuda, the country's flag carrier, saying standards had improved.

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