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US pilot dies in Covid-19 mercy mission in Indonesia

Plane belonging to Christian charity crashes while taking medical supplies to health workers in Papua province

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US pilot dies in Covid-19 mercy mission in Indonesia

American pilot Joyce Chaisin Lin died in a plane crash operated by Mission Aviation Fellowship on a mission to deliver medical supplies in Papua province on May 12. (Photo: Maf.org)

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An American pilot has died after an airplane operated by a Christian charity group crashed into a lake in Papua province on May 12 while delivering much-needed supplies to aid the fight against Covid-19.

Joyce Chaisin Lin, 40, was killed when the US-made Quest Kodiak 100 single-engine aircraft belonging to the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plunged into Sentani Lake two minutes after take-off on a flight from the provincial capital Jayapura to Mamit in Tolikara district, police said.

The pilot from Maryland in the US was the only person on the plane and her body was found and recovered by a rescue team shortly after the accident, according to Papua police spokesman Ahmad Mustofa Kamal.

Just before the crash, Lin had sent a distress call saying she was having technical difficulties and was returning to the airport, Kamal said. “The control tower then lost contact with her,” he said.

The cause of the crash has yet to be determined.

Silwanus Sumule, spokesman for the Covid-19 task force in Papua province, said the plane was carrying medical supplies, including personal protection equipment, for health workers treating Covid-19 patients.

Authorities in Papua have asked several charities with aircraft such as MAF and the Catholic Church’s Associated Mission Aviation (AMA) to help transport healthcare workers, medical supplies and test swabs to and from remote areas in the province.

Five people died when an AMA aircraft crashed a few minutes after take-off while on a pastoral mission on July 5, 2017.

In a statement, MAF said it would offer its full cooperation with authorities investigating the cause of the May 12 accident.

The charity said Lin “loved working" for MAF in Indonesia, where she also served as an IT support specialist.

“Though she was here just two years, her impact was significant,” the statement said, adding she “was a light, reflecting Jesus, and she will be deeply missed.”

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