Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Army helicopter MI 17 that had lost contact on June 28, 2019, remains missing despite the continuous search efforts, Commander of the Cenderawasih Military Command XVII Major General Yoshua Sembiring has said. "We have reported to the Chief of Staff of the Army about what we have done to find the helicopters. And we have asked for advice as the search operation has been carried out for one month," Sembiring told Antara here Saturday.

A rigorous search operation has been conducted and a post command has been established in the Silar Papare Air Force Base in Sentari, Papua.

The location where the helicopter is suspected to have crashed is covered by thick forest, making search efforts extremely difficult.

On land, the search is being conducted with the assistance of local inhabitants, and in the air by civilian aircraft flying over Bintang mountainous area, he explained.

Since the day the MI 17 helicopter disappeared from the radar, there have been consistent efforts to locate it with the help of a Bell Helicopter 206 and Bell Helicopter 412 bearing registration number HA-5177.

The search operation will continue until the helicopter is located, or until an order is issued to discontinue the search, he remarked.

The MI-17 helicopter took off from Oksibil Airport at 11:44 a.m. local time on June 28, and at 11:48 a.m. contacted the airport's air traffic control (ATC) to report that it would ascend to 7,800 feet, six nautical miles toward the north. The pilot then said "thank you" at 11:49 a.m., and thereafter all contact between him and the ATC was lost.

The MI-17 helicopter, bearing registration number HA-5138, was carrying 12 passengers and crew members onboard, who had earlier flown to Okbibab to deliver logistics to soldiers serving in the area.

The crew members were pilots CPN Captain Aris and CPN Lieutenant Bambang, co-pilot First Lieutenant CPN Ahwar, Head Sergeant Suriyatna, Sergeant Dita, Head Private Dwi Purnomo, and Private Aharul.

The passengers, who were members of the Battalion 725/WRG, comprised Second Sergeant Ikrar Setya Nainggolan, Private Yanuarius Loe, Private Risno, Second Private Sujono Kaimuddin, and Second Private Tegar Hadi Sentana.
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Reporter: Evarukdijati, Fardah