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    Jul 02, 2015

    Ageing air force fleet to be reviewed, says Joko


    INDONESIA'S president promised a review of the country's ageing air force fleet and a defence modernisation drive yesterday, as the death toll from the crash of a military transport plane in the north of the country climbed to about 140.

    The Hercules C-130B aircraft, which went into service half a century ago, was carrying 122 people when it ploughed into a residential area in the city of Medan shortly after taking off from an airbase. The incident throws a renewed spotlight on Indonesia's woeful air safety record.

    A military spokesman said 135 people were confirmed dead, including all those on board the plane. The MetroTV news channel said at least 141 bodies had been taken to a nearby hospital, indicating that around 20 people were killed on the ground.

    "There must be an evaluation of the age of planes and defence systems," President Joko Widodo tweeted late on Tuesday, as earth movers were used to recover the dead from the rubble of twisted metal and smashed buildings.

    The victims' families said yesterday that some passengers had paid to get on the aircraft. Air force chief Agus Supriatna denied that passengers had been asked to pay to board the military flight. "What we fear is that there may be certain people offering to take passengers on board without permission, that is what we are investigating," he said.

    Mr Joko said he had ordered an in-depth investigation into the cause of the incident and a "fundamental restructuring" of weapons management and procurement.

    "We should not just buy weapons, but shift towards modernising our weapons systems," he said in a televised statement yesterday.