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Airliner Crash Toll Put At 15, With 6 Missing

Sun., April 20, 1997

An Indonesian airliner crashed on approach to an island’s airport Saturday, killing at least 15 of the 52 people aboard, the airline said.

Witnesses said the 68-seat turboprop exploded and broke apart before hitting the ground in a palm plantation on Belitung island, about 280 miles northwest of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

The plane crashed a little more than one mile from the island’s airport, state-run Merpati Nusantara airlines said. Authorities at the airport suspected engine trouble was to blame, RCTI television said.

The airline said 48 passengers and four crew members - all Indonesians - were aboard the flight from Jakarta. A hospital was treating 31 survivors while searchers looked for six missing passengers.

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