updated 8/11/2009 8:01:20 PM ET 2009-08-12T00:01:20

The wreckage of a chartered plane that crashed while carrying 13 people to a tourist region of Papua New Guinea was sighted Wednesday by a rescue helicopter, an official said.

Papua New Guinea Civil Aviation Authority head Joseph Kintau said the plane was located in "very, very difficult terrain" and it was not clear whether there were survivors.

The plane, carrying 11 passengers and two crew, vanished Tuesday morning in bad weather on approach to an airport nestled in the rugged Kokoda region. Nine Australians, one Japanese and three Papua New Guineans were on board.

A radio signal had been received and rescuers would reach the area as soon as possible, Kintau told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. He said he had no other details.

Earlier, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called the missing plane "every family's worst nightmare" and said Australia would deploy "all possible assets" to help find the aircraft.

The twin-engine plane left the capital of Port Moresby en route to an airport near the country's Kokoda Track, a mountainous 60-mile trail. The plane's crew radioed air traffic controllers as it was approaching the airstrip, but the aircraft never landed, said Allen Tyson, a spokesman for Airlines PNG.

Efforts to locate the plane Tuesday were hampered by bad weather, low visibility and rugged terrain.

On board the plane were eight Australian tourists and an Australian tour guide planning to walk the trail as part of a trek organized by the adventure tour company No Roads Expeditions, the company said in a statement. Another guide from Papua New Guinea was also on board, the company said.

More on: Papua New Guinea

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