At least 30 killed as military plane crashes in residential area of Medan, Indonesia

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“The latest information we have is that 30 have died…. The number could go up,” Hisar Turnip, a spokesman for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told Reuters.

“It passed overhead a few times, really low. There was fire and black smoke. The third time it came by it crashed into the roof of the hotel and exploded straight away,” Elfrida Efi, a receptionist at the Golden Eleven Hotel, told Reuters.

She added that the plane also hit a massage parlor, where there are usually a few people during the day.

Twelve crew members were on board the plane, AP reported Indonesian Air Force operations commander Agus Dwi Putranto as saying on local TV. The number of passengers on board as yet remains unknown.Al-Jazeera correspondent Stephanie Dekker tweeted that the pilots had asked to return to base after take-off as something was wrong with the plane. After the plane turned around, it crashed, Dekker said.The plane was heading to the remote Natuna Islands, military spokesman Fuad Basya told Reuters.

Photos posted online on social media show the scale of the destruction, with black smoke billowing from the crash site, damaged cars and residential buildings in flames. Crowds of onlookers have gathered at the site.

A crash happened in Medan 10 years ago, when a Mandala Airlines Boeing 737 crashed after take-off from the city’s airport into a residential community, killing 143 people – 30 of them on the ground.

With a population of 3.4 million, Medan is the third-biggest city in Indonesia, after Jakarta and Surabaya.

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