MEDAN, Indonesia (AP) -- An Indonesian jetliner slammed into a crowded neighborhood moments after a shaky takeoff Monday and burst into flames, killing 147 people, including dozens on the ground. At least 15 passengers survived, among them an 18-month-old boy, officials said.
The Mandala Airlines Boeing 737-200 was heading to Jakarta in overcast weather when it plowed into a row of houses 500 yards from the airport and skidded onto a busy road in this city on northeast Sumatra island. Witnesses said some people were on fire as they fled the wreckage.
Firefighters struggled to put out the blaze, which engulfed dozens of houses and at least 10 cars, in a midmorning rainstorm. It was the sixth major jet crash worldwide since Aug. 1.
The plane was carrying 116 passengers and crew, airline spokesman Alex Widjojo said. There were differing accounts on the number of survivors.
Airline spokeswoman Nining, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said 16 people survived, including an 18-month-old boy and his mother.
Medan police chief Col. Irawan Dahlan said there were 15 survivors from the plane.
Transportation Minister Hatta Rajasa was quoted by the private news Web site as saying 47 people on the ground were killed.
City hospitals also were treating at least a dozen residents, officials said.
Many of the flight's survivors were sitting in the back of the plane, passenger Rohadi Sitepu said.
''The plane was taking off, but suddenly there was a strong tremor and it jerked to the left and crashed,'' he told Metro TV from his hospital bed. ''There was fire everywhere, from the front of the plane to the back.''
Witnesses said the plane started shaking violently when it reached an altitude of about 100 yards before banking to the left and plunging to the ground.
''I saw at least 20 people running around with their clothes alight,'' said Awi, a shop owner. ''They were shrieking in agony and shouting, 'Help! Help!'''
The cause of the crash was under investigation, but foul play was highly unlikely, said airline managing director Asril Tanjung.
Hundreds of policemen, paramedics and residents tried to evacuate victims, but flames and thousands of onlookers hampered efforts, said Syahrial Anas, a doctor overseeing the removal of charred bodies.
''We're having a hard time getting to the bodies because of the heat,'' Anas told The Associated Press.
Monday's crash follows five major airline accidents in August, the deadliest month for plane disasters since May 2002. Some 334 people died last month in accidents in Peru, Venezuela, Greece and Tunisia. A plane also overshot a Toronto runway and caught fire, but no one died.
At the Jakarta airport, dozens of relatives and friends of the victims cried upon hearing the news.
''I am waiting for my mother but Mandala just said that the plane crashed and she was on board,'' said Aryati, weeping as she spoke. ''Her name has appeared on a list of victims on TV.''
The dead included the governor of North Sumatra province, who was heading to the capital to meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Medan, the country's third-largest city, has been a major staging point for tsunami relief operations in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra island. The international airport is close to the center of town and is surrounded by densely populated neighborhoods.
Mandala Airlines is a Jakarta-based domestic carrier founded in 1969 by a military-run foundation. Its 15-plane fleet consists mainly of 1970s-vintage Boeing 737-200 jets. In recent years, the financially troubled airline has been forced to cut services and fares to remain competitive.
The plane was nearly 25 years old and received its last comprehensive service in June, Mandala said. It had flown more than 50,000 hours and was due to be retired in 2016.
Indonesia's last jetliner crash occurred in February 2005, when 26 people died after a plane operated by low-cost carrier Lion Air skidded off the runway on Java Island.
The country's worst crash occurred in September 1997, when a Garuda Airbus smashed into mountains near Medan, killing all 232 people on board.