Indonesian Plane Feared Crashed after Losing Contact

Jakarta, Jan 9 (AFP/APP): An Indonesian budget airline jet is feared to have crashed into the sea after the Boeing 737 lost contact with air traffic control on Saturday, with flight tracking data showing the plane plunged into a steep dive several minutes after take-off.

It was unclear how many passengers and crew were aboard Sriwijaya Air’s Boeing 737-500, which has a capacity of about 130, when it left Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta international airport. But 62 passengers and crew were listed on an unconfirmed manifest, including seven children and three infants, local media reported.

The usual flight time is about 90 minutes over the Java Sea between Indonesia’s main Java island and Kalimantan, the country’s section of Borneo island. Data from FlightRadar24 said the plane reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 metres) before dropping to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

“Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,” the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.

Broadcaster Kompas TV quoted local fishermen as saying they had found debris near islands just off the coast of the capital Jakarta, but it could not be immediately confirmed as having belonged to the missing jet. Indonesia’s transport ministry said it was probing the incident.

“A Sriwijaya (Air) plane from Jakarta to Pontianak (on Borneo island) with call sign SJY182 has lost contact,” said ministry spokesman Adita Irawati. “It last made contact at 2:40 pm (0740 GMT).”

The budget airline, which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, said only that it was investigating the loss of contact. Indonesia’s search and rescue agency and the National Transportation Safety Commission were also investigating, Irawati said.

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