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August 13, 2009

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13 killed as plane crashes in PNG

ALL 13 people aboard a chartered plane heading to a tourist region of Papua New Guinea were killed when the plane crashed while approaching the rugged terrain during foul weather, Australia's prime minister said yesterday.

Papua New Guinea officials informed Australia that no survivors were found in the wreckage, which was located in the mountainous Kokoda region earlier in the day, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told Parliament.

The plane, carrying 11 passengers and two crew, vanished on Tuesday morning in bad weather on approach to an airport in the Kokoda region. Nine Australians, one Japanese and three Papua New Guineans were on board. Two of the Australians killed in the crash were a father and a daughter, Rudd said.

"There is a horrible tragedy involved when families send off their loved ones for what they expect to be the experience of a lifetime, only for it to turn into a tragedy such as this," Rudd said.

The twin-engine plane left the capital of Port Moresby en route to an airport near Kokoda Track, a mountainous 100-kilometer trannil. The plane's crew radioed air traffic controllers as it was approaching the airstrip, but the aircraft never landed, said Allen Tyson, a spokesman for Airlines PNG.

Officials were not immediately sure what caused the crash. In a statement, the airline said the plane's two pilots were "highly experienced."

Eight Australian tourists and an Australian tour guide had planned to walk the trail as part of a trek organized by the adventure tour company No Roads Expeditions, the company said. Another guide from Papua New Guinea also was on board, it added.


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