Military personnel inspect the wreckage of an Indoensian Air Force cargo plane that crashed in Medan, Indonesia, on Tuesday, June 30.
Indonesian air force plane crashes in Northern Sumatra
02:02 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Officials suspect engine trouble might have caused crash, air force chief says

NEW: A total of 91 bodies have been recovered from the wreckage, he says

There were 122 people on board the plane when it went down, according to authorities

Jakarta, Indonesia CNN  — 

Searchers pulled more bodies Wednesday from the charred wreckage of an Indonesian military plane that authorities say was carrying more than 120 people when it crashed near a residential area.

Military personnel and their family members, students and other civilians were among those on board the C-130 Hercules plane that went down shortly after takeoff Tuesday in Medan, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

So far, 91 bodies have been recovered from the crash site, Air Marshal Agus Supriatna, the commander of the Indonesian Air Force, said Wednesday.

But more are expected to be retrieved from the shattered remains of the large transport aircraft.

The military transport plane had 122 people aboard – 110 passengers and 12 crew members – when it took off from Soewondo Air Force Base in Medan, according to Supriatna.

No survivors are reported to have been found, and it’s unclear how many people on the ground might have been caught up in the crash.

Images from the scene showed crowds gathering around the wreckage of the plane amid damaged buildings and a burned-out car. Thick smoke rose from the smoldering debris as firefighters battled to put out the flames.

Engine trouble might have caused crash

Authorities are still investigating what caused the disaster. Supriatna said Wednesday that they suspect engine trouble might have been to blame.

Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya, an Indonesian military spokesman, had said Tuesday that the aircraft, built in the United States in the 1960s, had been inspected and cleared to fly before it took off from Medan.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a review of military equipment in light of the disaster.

“Following several plane crashes, we should conduct a total audit and modernize the (old) planes,” Jokowi said, according to Indonesia’s national news agency, Antara.

Plane was carrying people, supplies between islands

The plane was carrying people and logistical supplies to bases on other Indonesian islands.

Indonesia crash locator map

It began its multistop journey Tuesday in Jakarta, the capital, and had made two stops along the way to Medan, in Pekanbaru and Dumai. Sometimes, Indonesian civilians also hitch rides on military flights to get to islands which might otherwise be inaccessible.

The military has set up command posts in Jakarta and Medan to help the victims’ families, Supriatna said.

Antara reported that the plane hit a busy road that connects Medan with the highland tourist resort of Brastagi.

The crash site is about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the air base, Basya said.

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CNN’s Kathy Quiano reported from Jakarta, Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong, and Catherine E. Shoichet wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Don Melvin, Manisha Tank, Roger Clark and journalist Tasha Tampubolon contributed to this report.