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May 10, 2012, 07.46 AM IST
INDONESIA-SUKHOI:Search resumes in Indonesia for missing Russian plane
By Olivia Rondonuwu
BOGOR, Indonesia (Reuters) - Rescuers resumed searching a mountain area south of the Indonesian capital at first light on Thursday for a Russian Sukhoi plane with 50 people on board that went missing during a demonstration flight and is presumed crashed.
Radio contact with Russia's first all-new passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union was lost at about 0800 GMT on Wednesday after it descended to 6,000 feet around Mount Salak, a volcano 7,254 feet above sea level, officials said.
The Superjet 100 plane was carrying Indonesian businessmen, Russian embassy officials and journalists. Dimitry Solodov from the embassy said there were eight Russians on board, including pilots and technicians.
"We have deployed an air search this morning but so far we have not located the plane. The sun has not come through to the area because the fog is very thick," Udjwalaprana Sigit, head of West Java disaster mitigation agency, told Reuters by telephone.
"From the Bogor side we will have about 300 to 400 people starting to search soon," Sigit said.
Two teams including military and police personnel will divide up to sweep the forested mountain area, about 65 km (40 miles) south of Jakarta, from different sides, said Ferry Achmad Furqon, an official at the Sukabumi disaster mitigation agency.
Those on board included eight crew and 42 guests according to the latest figures from the Russian embassy in Jakarta, Sunaryo, chairman of Sukhoi's Indonesian agent PT Trimarga Rekatama, told a news conference late on Wednesday.
The plane made two flights on Wednesday. It returned to Halim Perdanakusuma airport, east of Jakarta, after the first flight where some people got off and others boarded.
Sukhoi, which has orders for 170 planes worldwide, plans to produce up to 1,000 Superjets, primarily for foreign markets. It aimed to sell 42 planes to Indonesia, which is seeing a fast expanding aviation market that aims to tap travel by a growing middle class in the world's fourth-most populous nation.
The jet was developed with Western design advice and technology from companies including Italy's Finmeccanica
Built in a converted corner of a Sukhoi fighter factory in Siberia, it was first unveiled in 2007 as part of a drive to restore pride in Russia's aviation industry, but ran into a series of development delays.
The Superjet 100, with a capacity of 68-103 passengers, is already in service with Russia's Aeroflot and Armenian carrier Armavia and is half way through a 15,500-km (9,630-mile), six-nation Asian tour to try to drum up more international customers.
The aircraft is being marketed internationally in partnership with Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia Aeronautica.
(Writing by Matthew Bigg; Editing by Richard Pullin)
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