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Indonesia: Officials fear Sriwijaya Air plane crashed shortly after takeoff

Cox Gazette | Online Desk January 9, 2021, 10:45 PM Indonesia: Officials fear Sriwijaya Air plane crashed shortly after takeoff

A Sriwijaya Airplane is suspected to have crashed several minutes after takeoff from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Saturday, according to Indonesian authorities.

Tracking showed the path of flight SJ182 ending off the coast just north of Jakarta after the plane abruptly lost altitude.

The Indonesian Navy official Abdul Rasyid told Reuters that the coordinates of a Sriwijaya Airplane had been determined and that ships have been deployed to the location.

A sea and air search effort is well underway. The rescue operation, which includes 11 navy ships, is set to continue throughout the night.

What we know so far:

  • The plane took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport at about 2:36 p.m (7:36 UTC)
  • The flight last made contact around 2:40 p.m.
  • There were 62 people on board, including several children.
  • The flight was bound for the city of Pontianak, northwest of Jakarta.
  • The plane lost more than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) of altitude in less than a minute, according to FlightRadar24.
  • The plane model was an older Boeing 737-500.

Officials suspect the plane crashed

Bambang Suryo Aji, a senior official at the country's national search and rescue agency, told AFP that the plane had likely gone down.

"We deployed our team, boats and sea riders to the location suspected to be where it went down after losing contact," the official said.

Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 takes off from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)

A Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 lost contact after taking off from Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta

The Regent of the Thousand Islands chain said he had information that "something fell and exploded on Laki island," in comments to Indonesian newspaper Merdeka.

Previously, the Soekarno-Hatta Airport Branch Communications Manager Haerul Anwar said that the Sriwijaya Airplane had lost contact around Lancang Island — part of the Thousand Islands chain.

Local media reports said fishermen spotted metal objects believed to be parts of a plane in the Thousand Islands area.

Unconfirmed images of small debris fished from the water were broadcast by local media.

"We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water," CNN Indonesia quoted security official Zulkifli as saying.

A patrol boat from the Ministry of Transportation found possible human body parts and oil near to the reported crash site, local news outlet Kompas reported.

Sriwijaya Air, Boeing await more information

Indonesian TV footage showed relatives and friends of those aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited for information at airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.

The Sriwijaya Air flight path as provided by the FlightRadar24

The plane was heading northwest towards the city of Pontianak when it started losing altitude

Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian budget airline, said in a statement it is still gathering more detailed information regarding the flight before it can make a fuller statement.

A Boeing spokeswoman said, "We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information."

Boeing in trouble

Boeing has been plagued with problems ever since manufacturing the infamous 737 Max model that was involved in two deadly crashes in less than a year.

In October 2018, a total of 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa. All 157 people on board died.

The model was grounded and the company was Boeing was fined $2.5 billion (€2.04 billion) over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 Max model.

The plane that lost contact on Saturday is a much older model. The nearly 27-year-old aircraft did not use the new, questionable autopilot systems built into the current-generation 737 Max planes.

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