An aircraft operated by humanitarian organisation Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) went down in Lake Sentani in east Indonesia at 6.29 am local time (7.29 am Singapore time) on Tuesday (12 May).
Papua’s Police Public Relations Head, Police Commissioner AM Kamal, explained that the Cessna aircraft departed from the Sentani Airport and was headed to Mamid District in the Tolikara Regency.
While the aircraft was flying above the lake, it then plunged into the lake situated in Jayapura District, Kamal added.
The pilot died in the incident
Joyce Lin, the pilot of the aircraft, had reportedly passed away instantly in the crash.
She signalled “May Day” — a phrase deployed by pilots in distressing and potentially life-threatening situations — and asked for an emergency landing. The plane, however, had lost contact with the air traffic tower.
Captain Lin’s body was recovered from 13 meters below the lake. She was the only person on board of the aircraft.
The late Captain Lin was a citizen of the United States. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and honed a career as an IT specialist.
She received her calling as a Christian missionary pilot when she attended a theological seminary.
The plane sank after it exploded
Several residents admitted they had heard an explosion from the plane before it sank.
“I was checking my fishing net … I heard an unusual sound and then saw that plane plunging into the water.
“Then the plane’s front part went down a few centimetres and exploded. All villagers here heard that, I am sure,” Sentani resident Hans Yoku told Suara Papua.
An officer at the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) stated that a local fisherman witnessed from the distance how the doomed aircraft blasted.
“A local fisherman who was fishing was afraid that the plane would explode,” the officer explained.
The National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said it would investigate the cause of the crash.