An Indonesian jetliner crashed into a residential neighborhood in the city of Medan one minute after takeoff Monday and burst into flames, killing at least 60 people, witnesses said.
The Boeing 737 was operated by Mandala, a low-cost carrier, and was heading to Jakarta when it crashed into a crowded housing complex, Rizal, a witness, told Metro television station.
The plane was carrying at least 109 people, Transport Minister Hatta Radjasa said, adding that it was too early to say whether anyone survived or how many if any perished on the ground.
Syahrial Anas, a doctor who was overseeing the removal of charred bodies, said at least 60 people were killed.
"We're having a hard time getting to the bodies, because of the heat," he told The Associated Press, adding that dozens of ambulances and firefighters were heading to the scene in heavy traffic.
The airport in Medan, the largest city on Sumatra Island, is close to the center of town and is surrounded by densely populated residential areas, reports the AP.
Reuters quoted Edi Sofyan, a spokesman for the North Sumatra government, saying that there were no reports yet of any survivors. He added that the governor of the province was on board the flight.
"I expect the death toll to be around 100," said Sofyan.
Fierce flames licked at the wreckage as it lay on one of Medan's main roads. Cars and homes were also on fire and plumes of thick black smoke rose into the air as fire crews tried to extinguish the blazes.
"I arrived around 10 minutes after the accident. Burning bodies were everywhere," one local reporter said from the scene.
"Around 10 houses were burned, along with five to six minibuses. The plane was torn into pieces, we could only see the tail."
Survivors on the ground ran about frantically screaming the names of their relatives, added the reporter.
Photo: the AP