Indonesia plane crash site located, Navy says

By BBC On Sun, 10 Jan, 2021 09:17 | 2 mins read
South Africa
An aeroplane. PHOTO | BBC

Indonesian authorities say they have found the location where they believe a Boeing 737 passenger plane crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from the country’s capital Jakarta on Saturday.

The Sriwijaya Air jet was carrying 62 people when it disappeared from radar four minutes into its journey to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.

On Sunday, signals thought to be from the jet’s flight recorder were traced.

More than 10 ships have now been deployed to the site with navy divers.

“We have detected signals in two points, this could be the black box,” the chief of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Bagus Puruhito, said.

Investigators are also analysing items they believe to be wreckage from the aircraft, including a wheel and what they say could be part of the plane’s fuselage.

A spokesman for the Jakarta police, Yusri Yunus, said two bags had been received from the search and rescue agency.

“The first bag contained passengers’ properties, another bag contained body parts,” he told reporters, adding: “We are still identifying these findings.”

Search and rescue efforts were suspended overnight but resumed early on Sunday. Four planes have also been deployed to help with the search.

The missing aircraft is not a 737 Max, the Boeing model that was grounded from March 2019 until last December following two deadly crashes.

What happened to the aircraft?

The Sriwijaya Air passenger plane departed Jakarta airport at 14:36 local time (07:36 GMT) on Saturday.

Minutes later, at 14:40, the last contact with the plane was recorded, with the call sign SJY182, according to the transport ministry.

The usual flight time to Pontianak, in the west of the island of Borneo, is 90 minutes.

The aircraft did not send a distress signal, according to the head of national search and rescue agency Air Marshal Bagus Puruhito.

It is thought to have dropped more than 3,000m (10,000ft) in less than a minute, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.com.

Witnesses said they had seen and heard at least one explosion.

Fisherman Solihin, who goes by one name, told the BBC Indonesian service he had witnessed a crash and his captain decided to return to land.

“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.”

A number of residents of an island near where the plane disappeared told the BBC they had found objects they thought were from the plane.

Who was on board the flight?

There were thought to be 50 passengers – including seven children and three babies – and 12 crew on board, though the plane has a capacity of 130. Everyone on board was Indonesian, officials say.

Relatives of the passengers have been waiting anxiously at the airport in Pontianak, as well as at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

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