The Captain is a highly experienced Australian, aged about 65. The younger co-pilot is a New Zealander. I am told by a PNG friend who lives near Madang, that one passenger and one flight attendent survived...as well as both pilots.
It occurred at about 17.00 local time, about one hour before dark (depending on cloud density). There was a late afternoon CumuloNimbus overhead the Madang area, but this is nothing unusual as the clouds build up regularly during the later afternoon and produce heavy rain and lightning. There are instrument approach procedured proscribed for Madang including a DME Arrival procedure which is routinely flown on the Lae-Madang sector.
The terrain where the aircraft carried out an emergency landing attempt (I am informed) is lower lying coastal land, some of which has villages on it and some is covered by dense rain-forest (jungle).
As yet officially unconfirmed is that a MAYDAY transmission was made with perhaps a mention of a propeller overspeed and smoke in the cockpit.
What I can say is that the prevailing weather is not unusual and PNG pilots are quite able to cope with it. If a Cb is producing rain too dense to execute a safe landing, the oractice is to hold clear for a while and wait it out...or divert.
Casting my memory back, I think this may be the worst civil airline crash in PNG since flying operations began in New Guinea back in the 1920s.
An update: Four investgators from the Australian Air Transport Safety Bureau are on site to assist in the PNG Accident Investigation Commission. Captain Bill Spencer has a broken leg. F/O Campbell Wagstaff is reported as being essentially uninjured. One passenger escaped through a rupture in the fuselage and has burns to his back.
Airlines PNG have grounded all of their 12 Dash-8s until further notice. They also operate a fleet of DHC-6 Twin Otters.