A small plane flying into sunset. (Shutterstock)

The plane was carrying three passengers and two crew.

  06 July 2017 11:27

A small plane carrying five people is believed to have crashed in Papua province, an official said Wednesday, with a search and rescue mission underway.

Authorities lost contact with the Pilatus Porter PC-6 aircraft at midday Wednesday after it took off on a short flight across the remote, mountainous region. 

"We have found the coordinates of the plane, though we still need to find the exact location. In that area, it can be assumed the plane has crashed," Yusuf Latif, a spokesman at the search and rescue agency told AFP. 

The plane was carrying three passengers and two crew, with the pilot believed to be European, he said.

It belonged to Associated Mission Aviation (AMA) — a private company operating flights in and around Papua. 

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years. 

Papua is a particularly difficult area to reach.

A passenger plane with 146 people on board skidded off the runway in May as it landed in the province.

In August 2015, a commercial passenger aircraft operated by Indonesian carrier Trigana crashed in Papua due to bad weather, killing all 54 people on board.

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