Indonesia: Passenger plane with over 50 onboard missing after take-off
A Sriwijaya Air passenger plane with more than 50 people on board has lost contact with the Indonesian aviation authorities shortly after taking off from Jakarta on Saturday. The missing airplane was en route to Pontianak in the West Kalimantan province. The plane was a 26-year-old Boeing 737-500 aircraft. The Indonesian airline said it was gathering detailed information about the missing aircraft. Here's more.
Sriwijaya Air's flight SJ 182 had rapidly lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than a minute, according to a tweet by plane tracking website FlightRadar24. It tweeted, "Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta." However, Sriwijaya Air is yet to comment on the same.
The Indonesian Transport Ministry's spokesperson, Adita Irawati, told This Week in Asia that the last contact they had with the Sriwijaya Air aircraft was at 2:20 pm (local time). "At this point, we are investigating and coordinating the matter with Basarnas (search and rescue agency) and KNKT (the transport safety body). We will release more information as soon as there are developments," Irawati said.
According to reports, there were 56 passengers as well as six crew members on board the Sriwijaya Air passenger plane that was to reach Pontianak on Borneo Island from Jakarta in 90 minutes. "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.
Meanwhile, Agus Haryono, a Basarnas official, told Reuters that rescue operators found the suspected debris of the missing aircraft in the Java Sea, north of Jakarta. However, there is no official confirmation yet that the debris belonged to Sriwijaya Air's flight SJ 182. Some reports have also claimed that shortly after the take-off, the Boeing aircraft lost altitude and crashed into the sea.
"Initially, I received reports from fishermen, two of their boats saw an explosion from the sea twice...at 2:00 pm [local time]. We are looking for evidence using an anchor," said Surachman, a local government official. "We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water," Zulkifli, who is a security official, told CNN Indonesia.