Hopes that 18 passengers onboard Indonesia plane are alive

Hopes remain for 18 passengers onboard an Indonesian plane that went missing after it was found intact in a North Sumatra mountain range.

"The plane was found intact, the wings were not broken, at 3,500 feet high in the Bohorok mountain range," said Herry Bhakti Gumay, director general of aviation transportation at the ministry," ABC reports.

"We hope that all the passengers and crew are alive because the plane was not damaged."

A search and rescue team have been trying to reach the remote crash site, about 16 miles west of Medan, and no one knew what had happened to those on board, which included four children.

Rugged terrain and rains hampered searchers trying to reach the wreckage, Associated Press reports.

The Spanish-designed CASA C-212 was about halfway through its 30-minute flight between North Sumatra and Aceh provinces when it lost contact with air traffic control, said Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan, AP reports.

Minutes later, the turboprop-powered plane sent out a distress signal and then dropped off the radar, Bonar Hutagaol, an Air Force marshal, told TVOne.

"I saw something unusual," Agus, a witness, told the station. "A smoking plane circling very low before it disappeared from my view", AP reports.

Wreckage of the aircraft spotted during an aerial survey near the mountainous village of Bahorok appeared to be largely intact, its wings still fused to the body, said Ervan. There were no signs of the 14 passengers and four crew members, he said.

No foreigners were onboard the plane, ABC reports.

It is the latest in several plane crashes in Indonesia.

ABC reports:

The latest incident comes after a helicopter chartered by US giant Newmont Mining crashed on Sunday in central Indonesia, killing two people on board.

Another small aircraft, which was also transporting supplies to remote villages for a Christian humanitarian association in Papua, crashed last week, killing its American pilot and two passengers.

Earlier this month, an Australian and a Slovak pilot were killed when their small Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft, which was carrying fuel and food to a remote area in Papua province, went down.

The sprawling Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport and has a poor aviation record.