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Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182: Boeing 737 carrying 62 people feared to have ‘crashed into the sea’ in Indonesia

The i 09/01/2021 George Martin
a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: A Sriwijaya Air plane loads passengers at Denpassar international airport in Bali March 23, 2017. [file photo] (Reuters) © Provided by The i A Sriwijaya Air plane loads passengers at Denpassar international airport in Bali March 23, 2017. [file photo] (Reuters)

A plane carrying 56 passengers and six crew members is feared to have crashed into the sea off Indonesia, officials have said.

The Sriwijaya Air flight SJY 182 took off from the capital Jakarta on Saturday afternoon local time, and was scheduled to make a 90-minute internal flight to Pontianak City on the island of Borneo.

The plane stopped responding at 2.40pm local time (7.40am GMT) while over the Java Sea, shortly after take-off. Flight tracking data suggests the plane lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than a minute before contact was lost.

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A search and rescue operation was launched by the Indonesian government on Saturday, with officials saying the the plane is believed to have crashed into the sea as fishermen reported metal debris.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said a dozen vessels, including four warships, were deployed between Lancang island and Laki island, part of the Thousand Islands chain just north of Jakarta.

As night fell on Saturday, the Indonesian Navy said it has determined the likely coordinates of the plane and vessels had been deployed to the location.

Navy official Abdul Rasyid said: “The coordinates have been found and have been given to all Navy vessels in the area.”

62 people onboard

The plane is a 27-year-old Boeing 737-500. The airline’s chief executive Jefferson Irwin Jauwena told reporters that it was in good condition, though the flight was delayed for 30 minutes before it could take off due to heavy rain.

Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.

TV channels also showed pictures of the suspected wreckage and photos posted on social media appeared to show parts of the plane in the water, though no debris has yet been positively identified as from the missing plane.

Fisherman Solihin, who goes by one name, told the BBC he had witnessed a crash.

“The plane fell like lightning into the sea and exploded in the water,” he said. “It was pretty close to us, the shards of a kind of plywood almost hit my ship.

Search operations ongoing

The airline said they would be issuing an official statement soon “after obtaining the actual information”.

“Sriwijaya Air is still in contact with various related parties to get more detailed information regarding the SJ-182 flight from Jakarta to Pontianak,” the company said in a statement.

“Management is still communicating and investigating this matter and will immediately issue an official statement after obtaining the actual information.”

Sriwijaya Air is a small Indonesian carrier which only operates a 30-strong fleet of Boeing 737s.

Additional reporting from Reuters

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