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Plane crashes in Papua New Guinea with 32 aboard

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Fri October 14, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The airline says a number of people are unaccounted for
  • Australia says four people survived, including an Australian pilot
  • The plane crashed near the coastal city of Madang

(CNN) -- An Airlines PNG turboprop aircraft crashed near a coastal city in Papua New Guinea on Thursday, leaving a number of people unaccounted for, the airline said.

The Dash 8 plane was carrying 28 passengers and four crew members, the airline said.

"There appear to be some survivors while a number of people remain unaccounted for," it said in a statement.

Airlines PNG operates flights between Papua New Guinea and Australia. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said local authorities reported four survivors, including one pilot from Australia and one pilot from New Zealand.

It wasn't immediately clear where the flight originated or where it was headed.

The aircraft crashed near Madang, on Papua New Guinea's northeastern coast, the airline said. Emergency services have been activated and the airline said it was working with authorities to mount rescue and recovery efforts.

Authorities have launched a full investigation, the airline said. Airlines PNG said it had also grounded its Dash 8 fleet of 12 aircraft until further notice.

"Our prayers and thoughts are now with all those affected by this very sad day for Papua New Guinea," the airline's statement read.

Australian consular officials were expected to arrive in Madang later Friday, the foreign affairs department said.

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