Lion Air plane carrying at least 188 people crashes after taking off from Jakarta: official

| 29.10,18. 03:55 PM |





There are no reports of survivors from a Lion Air plane that has crashed into the ocean off Indonesia, carrying almost 200 people.

Key points:

  • Flight JT610 had "asked for a return to base before it finally disappeared from the radar"

  • Workers have begun retrieving debris and passengers' personal items from the ocean

  • Authorities cannot confirm what caused the crash and are waiting for the black box to be retrieved

Flight JT610, which had 188 people on board, lost contact 13 minutes after take-off, and a tug boat leaving the capital's port saw it fall from the sky.

Search and rescue authorities have found debris, including life jackets and body parts off the north coast of Java.

Divers are in the water looking for more bodies.

Indonesia's disaster agency tweeted photos of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.

Muhmmad Syaugi, the head of the search and rescue agency, said authorities were "praying" for survivors to be found.

"We don't know yet whether there are any survivors," Mr Syaugi told a news conference.

"We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm."

Those on board the one-hour-and-10-minute flight to Pangkal Pinang, on an island chain off Sumatra, included two babies, a child, two pilots and five flight attendants.

An official of Indonesia's safety transport committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane's black box, which contains the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder.

"We will collect all data from the control tower," said Soerjanto Tjahjono.

"The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the black box."

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the plane had "asked for a return to base before it finally disappeared from the radar".

Lion Air said in a statement that the plane's pilot and co-pilot had together amassed 11,000 hours of flying time.

Families who were waiting for their relatives at Pangkal Pinang began weeping when they were told the plane had crashed.

"Ya Allah (Oh my God)," a woman said while wiping away tears.

The Ministry of Transportation has now opened crisis centres for the families in Jakarta and Pangkal Pinang.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the crash and the embassy in Jakarta was making urgent inquiries to determine whether any Australians were affected.

'We are trying to collect all the information and data'

Preliminary flight tracking data from air tracking service Flightradar24 showed the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet (1,524 metres) before losing and then regaining height, and then finally falling towards the sea.

It was last recorded at 3,650 feet (1,113 metres) and its speed had risen to 345 knots, according to raw data captured by the website, which could not immediately be confirmed.

Its last recorded position was about 15 kilometres north of the Indonesian coastline, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates reported by Flightradar24, and it crashed in waters 30 to 35 metres deep.

The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to Flightradar 24.

Flight JT610 took off around 6:20am and was due to have landed in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining hub at 7:20am, the tracking service showed.

"We cannot give any comment at this moment," said Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group.

"We are trying to collect all the information and data."

Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on the resort island of Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.

This accident is the first to be reported that involves the popular Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet.

The first Boeing 737 MAX jets were introduced into service in 2017.

Lion Air's Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the very first global delivery.

Boeing said on Twitter it was "closely monitoring" the situation.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade.

The ban was completely lifted in June this year. The US lifted a decade-long ban in 2016.


abc


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