Small plane crashes in Indonesia; 18 feared dead

By the Associated Press | September 29, 2011 | 12:35 AM EDT

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A small plane carrying 18 people crashed in western Indonesia on Thursday, officials said, as search-and-rescue teams rushed to the scene.

The CASA C-212 was halfway through an hourlong flight between North Sumatra and Aceh provinces when it lost contact with air traffic control, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Transportation Ministry.

Residents in the village of Bahorok reported that the plane — carrying three crew members and 15 passengers — had crashed, he said.

Rescuers were on their way.

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.