The Hercules C-130 transport plane crashed into a residential area in the city of Medan yesterday, shortly after taking off from an airbase in the city on Sumatra island.

Buildings were severely damaged, cars reduced to flaming wrecks and the plane itself was almost completely destroyed, with the mangled tail the only part of the 51-year-old aircraft still recognisable after the disaster.

Many of those on board the flight to an island off Sumatra, which was carrying 122 people, were believed to be servicemen and women and their families. The air force has said no one survived the crash.

It is unclear how many people died on the ground, but a steady stream of bodies has been arriving at a Medan hospital as rescuers pull them from the disaster scene, and police said today that the total death toll now stood at 142.

People in the area said several buildings were thought to have been destroyed in the crash, although it was not clear whether there were people inside at the time. The plane hit a massage parlour and hotel when it came down, according to officials.

Rescuers were today continuing to clear debris, which spread over a large area, helped by two earth movers, as hundreds looked on.

Yesterday's accident was the sixth deadly crash involving an Indonesian air force plane in the past decade, according to the Aviation Safety Network, and prompted Indonesian President Joko Widodo to call for an overhaul of the military's ageing equipment.

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