CIJERUK, Indonesia - Indonesian searchers with body bags and hoists have scaled a steep volcano to retrieve at least 45 bodies spread over the jungly terrain where a Russian jet crashed during a sales flight.
The crews were using climbing equipment to ascend the near-vertical face of Mount Salak, a dormant volcano south of Jakarta.
They were believed to be about 200 metres from reaching the first bodies, authorities said on yesterday afternoon.
All aboard the Sukhoi Superjet 100 were killed, authorities said on Thursday, a day after the plane slammed into the mountain during a flight that was meant to spur international sales of Russia's first post-Soviet civilian jet.
The military commander of the mission said one team was climbing up from the foot of the mountain, while another was going down from the top.
The difficult terrain over the dormant volcano, which juts more than 2200 metres into the air and is most days shrouded in thick fog, has been an extreme challenge to the searchers.
The mist had stopped helicopters from getting close to the area, since a chopper pilot first spotted the wreckage on Thursday morning, authorities said.
"The plane crashed into the mountain and slid 250m down," said Colonel Anton Mukti Putranto.