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AP/Gilbert Manullang
The crash site today.

More than 100 people are feared dead after an Indonesian air force plane crash

An Indonesian air force plane crashed in a residential area in Sumatra today, killing at least 50 people. The death toll may be greater than 100, officials say; details are still emerging and the number of passengers on board the plane is still unclear.

Witnesses in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra where the plane crashed, say the plane was on fire and circling low when it crashed into the roof of a hotel, exploding into a fireball and damaging at least two nearby houses. The plane had reportedly taken off from a local air force base just minutes before.

The plane, a C-130 Hercules built some 50 years ago in the US, reportedly had 113 passengers on board when it took off from Jakarta early this morning. The plane made two stops—during which passengers and cargo could have been loaded or offloaded—before arriving at an air force base in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra. Shortly after taking off from there, the plane ran into some sort of technical trouble; the pilot was apparently trying to turn back to the airport when the plane went down over one of Medan’s prime neighborhoods.

The BBC reports that this is one of several fatal accidents involving Indonesian military aircraft in recent years. Another C-130 crashed in 2009 in Java and killed 98 people.

Photos from the Associated Press and locals sharing on social media show crowds gathering around the wreckage and an ongoing search for survivors in the rubble.

AP/Gilbert Manullang
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