Twenty-eight people were killed and four others survived when their plane crashed into the remote forests of Papua New Guinea, Australian officials said Friday.
The survivors of Thursday's crash include an Australian pilot and a New Zealand pilot, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.
The Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft crashed while flying from Lae to the resort hub of Madang on the South Pacific island nation's north coast, Papua New Guinea's Accident Investigation Commission spokesman Sid O'Toole said.
The twin-propellor plane crashed 20 kilometres south of Madang, he said. Police and ambulances had reached the crash site and investigators were traveling there Friday, he said.
Australian consular officials were also planning to travel to Madang on Friday.
“Initial indications are that there are no Australians amongst those killed,” Australia's foreign affairs department said in a statement.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. television cited Madang residents as saying there was a violent storm in the area at the time of the crash.
In a statement, Airlines PNG said a full investigation was under way into the cause of the accident. The airline said it has temporarily grounded its fleet of 12 Dash 8 aircraft.
Most of the passengers were parents traveling to attend their children's university graduation ceremony in Madang this weekend, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency.
The duty manager at the Madang Resort, Donald Lambert, said six of the plane's occupants — one passenger and five crew members — had reservations to stay at his hotel.
“I went to meet them at the airport,” he said.