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Nineteen Dead In Plane Crash In Papua New Guinea

July 10, 1996

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ A twin-engine charter plane crashed in the mountains of central Papua New Guinea, killing all 19 people aboard, including two infants.

The Twin Otter propeller plane chartered by Milne Bay Air of Papua New Guinea was on its way to the southern highlands’ provincial capital of Mendi on Tuesday when it hit an outcropping about 5 miles outside town.

The dead included one Australian and 18 Papua New Guineans.

The crash occurred about 300 miles northwest of the national capital, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s National Disaster Office said.

The plane went down in heavy clouds after stopping in several villages, said the director-general of National Disaster and Emergency Services, Leith Anderson.

``The terrain is absolutely horrifying for aircraft. There are high up-and-down mountains thousands of feet high with sheer cliffs,″ Anderson said by telephone from Port Moresby. ``It’s difficult to fly through even on a fine day.″

Flying is hazardous in Papua New Guinea because of its rough terrain and thick jungles. Many remote villages and settlements rely on air service as their main link to the outside world.

Tuesday’s crash was the second major disaster for the airline in 12 months.

Last July 12, 14 students and a pilot died when another Milne Bay Air Twin Otter crashed onto a beach soon after takeoff from a remote airstrip on the southeast tip of Papua New Guinea’s mainland.

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