Approximately 144 people are feared dead after an Indonesian C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft crashed in a residential area near the city of Medan on the northern island of Sumatra.

The C-130 Hercules reportedly met with the accident shortly after leaving an air force base in Medan.

The Lockheed Martin-built aircraft entered into service half a century ago. It hit two houses and a hotel in the area after the failure.

According to Indonesian Air Force spokesperson Dwi Bandarmanto, the aircraft was carrying twelve crew members and 101 passengers, including military officers and family members.

"The Lockheed Martin-built aircraft hit two houses and a hotel in the area after the failure."

Bandarmanto was quoted by the Guardian as saying: "We had the list of the manifest and it was changing a lot.

"There were some children who were not named on the manifest, maybe five to eight children."

It was travelling from Jakarta, the country’s capital, to Tanjung Pinang in Riau Islands off Sumatra.

Currently, a major rescue operation is underway with the support of heavy machinery to remove the mangled wreckage.

Meanwhile, Air Force head Agus Supriatna said that the C-130 Hercules’ pilot had asked to return to base due to technical difficulties, BBC news reported.

Supriatna was quoted as saying: "The plane crashed while it was turning right to return to the airport.”

The latest incident marks the second plane crash in the Medan area over the last ten years. A Boeing 737 of Mandala Airlines crashed in a residential area in September 2005, killing 143 people.

The Aviation Safety Network stated that the country witnessed ten fatal crashes that involved Indonesian military or police aircraft during the last decade.