Aircraft debris, body parts, and clothing pieces have been found in the Java Sea where the Indonesian flight, SJ182, that lost contact on Saturday, is presumed to have crashed, according to officials.
“We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water,” Zulkifli, a security official, told CNNIndonesia.com.
The Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 was carrying 62 people on board, including 7 children and 3 babies. It took off from the nation’s capital, Jakarta for a domestic 90 min flight to Pontianak of West Kalimantan province. After an hour delay, the journey began at 12.36 pm IST on Saturday and lost contact with the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport 4 minutes later. Reliable tracking service Flightradar24 said the flight “lost more than 10,000 feet [3,000 meters] of altitude in less than one minute”.
News regarding the missing flight was reported after sonar equipment of a navy ship “found the signal from” the airplane. The location fits into the last point of contact the flight made with the airport. Post probing the area, divers recovered metal pieces and other materials of the plane about 23 meters below the water level, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said.
Bambang Suryo Aji, the National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy head of operations and preparedness, said the items found during the dive were given to the National Transportation Safety Committee in order to conclude whether the materials belonged to the plane or not.
As no radio beacon signal regarding the crash was transmitted by the lost plane, Aji said the NSRA agency was investigating the cause of the emergency locator transmitter not being able to send signals. The ELT’s signal could prove the crash.
Hadi Tjahjanto said “We are sure that is the point where the plane crashed,” expressing his hope for the weather to remain pleasant for the underwater search to continue with a clear view.
The cause of the crash hasn’t been found yet and there isn’t any sign of a survivor till now.
“I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my deep condolences for this tragedy,” President Joko Widodo said, adding, “We are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together so that the victims can be found.”
Soon after the crash, fishermen in the area close to Thousand Islands reported an explosion at around 12.30 pm on Saturday. A local fisherman Solihin said, “We heard something explode; we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water,” while also saying in the telephonic conversation, “It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So, it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
2 crisis centers have been set up- one at the airport and the other at the port- where family members of the passengers have gathered, hopeful to get survival news of their loved ones.
Yaman Zai, husband of one of the passengers of the flight sobbingly said, “I have four family members on the flight – my wife and three children. (My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today … How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”
Social media was flooded with pictures of the flight and passengers before they boarded the unfortunate airplane. In one of the videos, a woman can be seen with her children walking towards the airplane with her children waving out to her family.
In a statement, Boeing said, “We are in contact with our airline customers and stand ready to support them during this difficult time. Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families.”
Indonesia, however, remains to be plagued with flight accidents. The 737-500 was a 27-year-old aircraft, much older than the Boeing 737 MAX that met with a disastrous fate after it crashed in late 2018 in Jakarta leading to the death of all 189 aboard. In 2014’s December, an Air Asia flight too plunged into the sea while on its way from Surabaya to Singapore. None of the 162 people on the flight survived.
Though many did not pass the safety tests as they lacked the system for the crisis, older 737 flights have continued to fly domestically and internationally.
The plane was airworthy, according to Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena. It was previously used by America and had also flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day it crashed.
During a news conference, he said, “Maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy.”
As Jakarta was witnessing heavy rain and bad weather, the flight was delayed due to this and not of any internal problem in the plane itself.
Sriwijaya airlines have had a good flight history with almost nill such incidences in the past.
Currently, helicopters and military vessels are being sent to the area to investigate more as the navy has found the coordinates situated between the Lancang and Laki islands, both parts of the Thousand Islands chain, and ships too are on their way to the site.