A Boeing 737 passenger jet with 62 people onboard that vanished off the radar minutes after it took off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta, is believed to have crashed in the sea as per Indonesia‘s Head Of National Transportation Safety Committee, Suryanto Cahyono.
The 90-minute Sriwijaya Air flight over the Java Sea between Jakarta and Pontianak plunged nearly 11,000 feet in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 250 feet before vanishing.
A search and rescue operation has been launched for the 26-year-old aircraft. A statement released by the airline confirmed that the plane had 56 passengers and six crew members onboard. It’s not known if any India passengers were on the flight.
According to Maj. Gen Bambang Suryo Aji of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Basarnas, the Boeing B737-500 plane is believed to have crashed between the islands of Laki and Lancang, in the Thousand Islands chain northwest of the capital, Jakarta.
“We have found debris which is suspected to be from the missing Sriwijaya flight, which we have now seized,” he told the local media, adding that they were currently facing problems in carrying out the operation as it was getting dark. “We will try our best to find the exact location and coordinates of where the flight fell and tomorrow morning, and can continue the search in our maximum capacity,” said Aji. Family members and relatives of the missing people are now fearing the worst after rescuers confirmed having discovered suspected debris in the ocean. Television footage showed the kin of the missing people weeping, praying and hugging each other at the airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.
A spokesperson for Boeing told MailOnline: ‘We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information.’
Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati confirmed that the Boeing 737-500 took off from Jakarta at about 1.56 pm and lost contact with the control tower at 2.40 pm.
In a similar incident in October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet plunged into the Java Sea within minutes after taking off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight, killing 189 people on board. A subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia in 2019 resulted in Boeing being fined $2.5 billion over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following back to back two deadly crashes.
Indonesia’s aviation sector has been infamous for poor safety standards so much so that its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.