Image: A CASA 212-200 aircraft rests on trees in an isolated jungle area near Langkat district, North Sumatra, Indonesia, where 18 aboard were found dead on Saturday.
Paskhas Tni Au  /  EPA
A CASA 212-200 aircraft rests on trees in an isolated jungle area near Langkat district, North Sumatra, Indonesia, where 18 aboard were found dead on Saturday.
updated 10/1/2011 1:11:19 AM ET 2011-10-01T05:11:19

Rescuers on Saturday found the bodies of 18 people who were aboard a plane that crashed two days earlier in the mountains of western Indonesia.

The plane lost contact with air traffic control early Thursday while flying from North Sumatra to Aceh province. Minutes later, it sent out a distress signal, then dropped off the radar.

Sunarbowo Sandi of the search and rescue team told The Associated Press that 15 rescuers reached the crash site Saturday morning and found the bodies of the 14 passengers and 4 crews still on their seats. Four of the dead were children.

Hopes had been raised that there may be survivors after the aircraft was spotted intact with one of its doors open.

Rugged, forested terrain and bad weather had prevented rescuers from reaching the crash site by foot, said Sunarbowo Sandi, head of the local search-and-rescue team, after carrying out 300-foot-high aerial surveys.

But just before darkness fell Friday, a helicopter lowered two rescuers by rope into a valley about 300 yards from the wreckage, said Sunarbowo Sandi, head of the local search-and-rescue team.

Though the plane's nose and cockpit were badly damaged, the fuselage and wings were intact, Robur Rizallianto, a safety manager with the airline PT Nusantara Buana Air, said earlier.

Footage on MetroTV showed family members of the crash victims waiting at the airport in Medan, from where the plane departed, in hysterics.

They demanded clear information about the fate of their loved ones, accusing the airline and rescue teams of taking far too long.

The aircraft, made in Indonesia in 1989, was last inspected Sept. 22, Rizallianto said. It was in good condition, and a check ahead of takeoff Thursday also came up clean, he said.

Indonesia, a sprawling archipelagic nation of 240 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents in recent years, from plane and train crashes to ferry sinkings. Many are blamed on overcrowding and poor safety standards.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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