Propeller wasn't working on crashed Indonesian military plane, official says

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Military personnel and search and rescue teams comb through the wreckage of a military transport plane which crashed into a building on Tuesday (June 30) in Medan, Indonesia.

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) — The propeller wasn't working on one of the engines of the Indonesian military transport plane that crashed this week, killing at least 135 people, authorities said Thursday.

The "initial finding" suggests the crash may have been caused by problems in the engine, said Air Marshal Agus Supriatna, the chief of the Indonesian air force.

The C-130 Hercules smashed into the city of Medan, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, minutes after taking off Tuesday. Authorities say it was carrying 122 people, including military personnel and their family members.

Supriatna has said that the pilot asked the control tower for permission to return to base shortly before the four-engine turboprop plane went down. One witness reported that the plane appeared to lose power before it started to descend.

The disaster left piles of burning wreckage among broken buildings in Medan. In addition to the those aboard the plane, at least 13 people on the ground were killed, based on the death toll reported by officials.

Questions over nation's air fleet

The crash, the sixth involving an Indonesian Air Force plane in the past decade, is still being investigated. But it has raised concerns about the condition of the nation's military aircraft.

Following the latest disaster, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a review of military equipment, suggesting older planes should be modernized. The C-130 that crashed Tuesday was 50 years old, according to the air force.

One squadron of Hercules aircraft has been temporarily banned from flying pending the result of the crash investigation, said Indonesian Air Force spokesman Dwi Badarminto. He said he was unable to specify exactly how many planes were affected.

Remains of the dead recovered from the crash site are still being identified in Medan. Some bodies have been flown to Jakarta, the national capital, to be turned over to next of kin.

The plane was carrying people and logistical supplies bound for bases on other Indonesian islands.

It began its multistop journey Tuesday in Jakarta and had made two stops along the way to Medan, in Pekanbaru and Dumai.

CNN's Kathy Quiano and journalist Rudy Madanir reported from Jakarta, and CNN's Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.

This story was first published on, "Propeller wasn't working on crashed Indonesian military plane, official says."