Theories to be Tested in Garuda Crash

Many of these theories will be tested against data contained in the black boxes, retrieved from the plane's wreckage and sent to Australia overnight.


Gusts of wind, broken wing flaps and human error are all being claimed as causes of the Garuda air disaster, which claimed 21 lives in Indonesia this week.

Five Australians are among those listed as missing after the crash at Yogyakarta airport.

Fellow pilots who have spoken to the two pilots in charge of doomed Garuda Flight 200 say broken wing flaps and a big down-draft were being blamed as the cause of Wednesday's fatal crash landing.

The Garuda plane dropped suddenly and landed at excessive speed, bounced, then careered off the runway.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says the pilots have told Indonesian investigators that sudden gusts of wind were to blame.

But Indonesia's national police spokesman has cited human error as the best initial assessment.

Many of these theories will be tested against data contained in the black boxes, retrieved from the plane's wreckage and sent to Australia overnight.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says it is unlikely the missing Australians have survived.

Mr Downer says he expects the 21 bodies recovered from the crash to be formally identified in the next few days.

But Indonesian authorities already claim to have formally identified four Australians.

The Australians listed as missing are AFP officers Brice Steele and Mark Scott, embassy spokeswoman Liz O'Neill, Australian Financial Review journalist Morgan Mellish and the head of AusAID in Indonesia, Allison Sudradjat.

Mr Downer says four Australian survivors were taken to hospital but one man left the scene.

"We've not been able to find him but he was certainly on the plane and we understand that he did get off the plane," Mr Downer said.

"He was uninjured and he phoned a friend and through the friend, we found out he's alright, but where he's gone, I don't know."

Federal Government frontbencher Joe Hockey has told the Seven Network the Government is still listing five Australians as missing after the Garuda crash.

"They are still, from our perspective, missing but the Indonesians have claimed to have identified four of the five Australians," Mr Hockey said.

"We have 70 people on the ground now up there carrying out investigations and assisting the Indonesians with their investigations and we only hope that all of those that are injured get a quick recovery."

Logo painted over

Meanwhile, airline officials have declined to explain why a logo on the wreckage has been painted over.

Before it was painted over and then cut down, the stylised flying garuda emblem could be clearly seen on the burnt tail of the plane, where it exploded past the end of the runway at Yogyakarta airport.

On the side, a registration number identifying ownership of the wreck was also visible before it too was painted over with white paint.

The practice, designed to limit bad publicity, was also used to disguise an Adam Air flight that crash-landed and almost cracked in two in Suryabaya several weeks ago.

Aussie doctor

The Darwin-based trauma specialist who travelled with an Australian Air Force medical team to Yogyakarta to help assess crash victims says his job is done and he is returning home.

Dr David Cooper, co-chair of the National Trauma Response Centre at the Royal Darwin Hospital, says the medical team has finished up with a very positive view on the collaboration with Indonesian authorities.

"Doctors at Dido Hospital, which is the large trauma centre there, they looked after 2,000 patients during the earthquake in one day, you know, incredible," he said.

"So we can learn a lot from them in terms of mass casualty management.

"Certainly, we were impressed with the standard of care and I think it's important that we continue an ongoing relationship, and we can work together in terms of capacity building and sharing information."

Dr Cooper says the coordination of Australian medical staff to deal with the crisis was excellent.

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