Wreckage thought to be from the plane was found along with scraps of clothing
An aircraft carrying more than 60 people has crashed into the sea off Indonesia, officials have said. The Boeing 737-500, which belonged to the Sriwijaya Air airline, lost contact with an airport control tower shortly after taking off at 2.36pm local time.
Pictures on social media claimed to show that the plane – carrying 56 passengers and six crew – had landes in the sea. Three babies were said to be on board.
The crash was said to have taken place around Lancang Island in the Thousand Islands. Novie Riyanto, the Director General of Air Transportation of the Ministry of Transportation, was quoted on local media as saying that officials had lost contact with the plane and were trying to establish what had happened.
The plane – flight SJ182 – was travelling from Jakarta to Pontianak.
The aviation tracking website Flightradar24, showed the aircraft plummeting from 8,000ft to 252ft at 33,000 feet per minute:
“Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10.000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta.”
A search and rescue ship has now been despatched to the area. The Thousand Islands are a chain of islands to the north of Jakarta’s coast.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people.
The aircraft involved in the latest crash is a 27-year-old Boeing 737-500.
Sriwijaya Air is one of Indonesia’s discount carriers, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
A local government official told Kompas TV that fishermen found what appeared to be the wreckage of an aircraft in waters north of Jakarta and a search was underway. Other channels showed pictures of suspected wreckage. Body parts were also said to have been found.
“We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water,” a security official, told CNNIndonesia.com
Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at Jakarta’s airport and Pontianak’s airport.