Fate of 62 aboard crashed Sriwijaya Air plane yet unknown

Sriwijaya Air plane missing with 62 on board
Sriwijaya Air plane missing with 62 on board

Agency Report

The fate of 62 people on board the Sriwijaya Air plane which crashed into the sea on Saturday is yet unknown, since the wreckage has not been found.

The plane a Boeing 737-500 crashed minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.

Its destination was Pontianak in West Kalimantan.

It disappeared from radar screens after taking off just after 2.30 p.m. (0730 GMT) – 30 minutes after the scheduled time because of heavy rain.

Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya told a news conference that 62 people had been aboard Flight SJ 182, including 12 crew.

The detik.com website quoted him as saying the plane crashed near Laki Island, some 20 km (12 miles) from the airport.

Rescue agency Basarnas said in a statement it would send a team to the Thousand Islands area to help in the search for victims “after the crash of Sriwijaya Air SJ 182”.

All those on board were Indonesian, Indonesia’s transport safety committee said.

Indonesia’s Navy had pinpointed the site of the missing aircraft and ships had been sent there, a Navy official said.

Authorities did not say whether they believed there were survivors.

Indonesian airline Sriwijaya Air’s chief executive, Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, told a news conference that the plane had been in good condition before the flight.

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”.

Reliable tracking service Flightradar24 said the Boeing jet took off at 2:36 p.m. local time (0736 GMT) and climbed to reach 10,900 feet within four minutes. It then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.

A transport ministry spokeswoman said air traffic control at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport had asked the pilot why the plane was heading northwest instead of on its expected flight path just seconds before it disappeared.

There were no immediate clues on what may have caused the sudden descent and safety experts stress most air accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that can take months to establish.

Distraught relatives

Indonesian television channels showed pictures of suspected wreckage.

“We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water,” Zulkifli, a security official, told CNNIndonesia.com.

Yaman Zai, a father of three children who were aboard the plane with their mother, said that he was at the airport in Pontianak waiting for them, when he heard the news.

“I will never meet her again,” he said, holding up a photo of his oldest daughter.

Indonesia’s KNKT safety agency was expected to launch an immediate investigation. The U.S. National Safety Transportation Board will automatically be part of the probe, since the plane was designed and built in the United States.

Founded in 2003, Jakarta-based Sriwijaya Air group flies largely within Indonesia. The airline has a solid safety record until now, with no onboard casualties in four incidents recorded on the Aviation Safety Network database.

Reported by Reuters via NAN

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