updated 10/13/2011 2:51:14 PM ET 2011-10-13T18:51:14

A plane carrying 32 people, including parents on their way to their children's graduation, crashed in the wilds of Papua New Guinea on Thursday, an official and news reports said.

Local villagers told the government-owned National Broadcasting Commission there were four survivors.

The Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft crashed while flying from Lae to Madang on the South Pacific island nation's north coast, Accident Investigation Commission spokesman Sid O'Toole said.

The twin-propellor plane crashed 12 miles south of Madang, he said.

"All I can tell you is there have been reports of survivors and reports there have been fatalities," O'Toole said.

Police and ambulances had reached the crash site and investigators would travel there Friday, O'Toole said.

The Australian Associated Press news agency said most of the passengers were parents traveling to attend their children's university graduation ceremony in Madang this weekend.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. television cited Madang residents as saying there was a violent storm in the area at the time of the crash.

The duty manager at the Madang Resort, Donald Lambert, said six of the plane's occupants — one passenger and five crew members — had reservations to stay at his hotel.

"I went to meet them at the airport," he said.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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