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American woman dies in plane crash while attempting to deliver Covid-19 tests to remote Indonesian village

Joyce Lin, left, and fellow pilot Kees Janse prepare for a flight in Wamena, Indonesia.
Joyce Lin, left, and fellow pilot Kees Janse prepare for a flight in Wamena, Indonesia. (Mission Aviation Fellowship)

An American pilot died when her plane malfunctioned while she was on her way to deliver Covid-19 rapid test kits to a remote Indonesian village, officials said.

Joyce Lin, 40, had just taken off Tuesday morning, leaving the airport in Sentani, in Papua province, in a Kodiak aircraft. She was a missionary with the Mission Aviation Fellowship, serving as a pilot and an information technolgoy specialist.

She'd been with the MAF for about three years, according to the organization.

Tuesday, Lin was attempting to fly to Mamit, in the Papua highlands, in an effort to bring test kits to the local clinic. Within minutes of takeoff, she reported an emergency.

The aircraft fell into Lake Sentani, and divers confirmed she did not survive, according to the MAF. She was the only one aboard the plane. The MAF said it is working with local authorities to investigate the incident.

Lin had worked in Indonesia for two years, and joined the MAF after more than a decade of work as a computer specialist. She was a graduate of the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology, where she received both her bachelor and master degrees, before enrolling at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduating in 2017.

It was at seminary that Lin discovered mission aviation, and she never looked back.

"Joyce was a light reflecting Jesus, and she will be deeply missed," the MAF wrote in a statement.

Lin is survived by her parents and two sisters, who have requested privacy were not available for comment.

Indonesia has seen more than 15,000 cases of the virus, and over 1,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. That's the highest death toll for any East Asian country, other than China, and only Singapore and China have had more cases.

The country has seen its coronavirus numbers rapidly multiply, despite not reporting any Covid-19 cases until March.

President Joko Widodo didn’t declare a national public health emergency until March 31, the same day it forbade most foreign visitors from entering or transiting through the country.