An Indonesian Sriwijaya Air plane with 62 people on board is suspected to have crashed after it went missing following its takeoff from capital Jakarta on Saturday, AFP reported. The plane was en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.
At a news conference, Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya said that 62 people – 43 adults and 7 children – had been aboard, including 12 crew members. Earlier, an official had said that the plane was carrying 56 passengers and six crew members.
Bambang Suryo Aji of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas, told reporters that that the plane is believed to have crashed between the islands of Laki and Lancang, in the Thousand Islands chain, northwest of Jakarta, CNN reported.
Rear Admiral Abdul Rasyid said the Indonesian Navy has deployed five warships and diving troops to find the plane.
In the afternoon, Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said the Boeing 737-500 passenger plane took off from Jakarta at about 1.56 pm and lost contact with the control tower at 2.40 pm. “The missing plane is currently under investigation and under coordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee,” Irawati said in a statement.
An official of the Basarnas search and rescue agency said they have found suspected debris in waters north of the city, but is yet to be confirmed if it came from the Sriwijaya Air plane, Reuters reported.
An investigator for the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee told The New York Times that they are gathering all the information they can get. “Whenever we hear this kind of news, we get ready,” Ony Suryo Wibowo said.
Sriwijaya Air said the estimated flight time was about 90 minutes.
Tracking service Flightradar24 tweeted that Flight SJ182 “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta”. The aircraft first flew in May 1994 and is 26 years old, it added.
Saturday’s incident came just after aircraft maker Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion (over Rs 18,350 crore) in fines and compensation after reaching a settlement with the United States Department of Justice for two plane crashes that killed 346 people and led to the grounding of its 737 MAX jetliner model.
In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet crashed into the sea about 12 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.