Indonesia search and rescue says ‘likely’ all 189 aboard crashed jet dead
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Indonesia search and rescue says ‘likely’ all 189 aboard crashed jet dead

All 189 passenger and crew aboard a crashed Indonesian jet were “likely” killed in the accident, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Monday, as it announced it had found human remains.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2018 16:26 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Agencies
lion air crash
Relatives of passengers of Lion Air, flight JT610, that crashed into the sea cry at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Belitung island, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. (Antara Foto/Hadi Sutrisno via Reuters Photo)

All 189 passenger and crew aboard a crashed Indonesian jet were “likely” killed in the accident, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Monday, as it announced it had found human remains.

“My prediction is that nobody survived because the victims that we found, their bodies were no longer intact and it’s been hours so it is likely 189 people have died,” agency operational director Bambang Suryo Aji told reporters.

The aircraft crashed into the sea as it tried to circle back to the capital, Jakarta, from where it had taken off minutes earlier, and there were likely no survivors, officials said.

Lion Air flight JT610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route to Pangkal Pinang, capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region. Rescue officials said they had recovered some human remains from the crash site, about 15 km (9 miles) off the coast.

Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record is patchy. If all aboard have died, the crash will be the country’s second-worst air disaster since 1997, industry experts said.

The pilot had asked to return to base (RTB) after the plane took off from Jakarta. It lost contact with ground staff after 13 minutes.

“It’s correct that an RTB was requested and had been approved but we’re still trying to figure out the reason,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told reporters, referring to the pilot’s request.

“We hope the black box is not far from the main wreckage so it can be found soon,” he said, referring to the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

Search and rescue agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference earlier that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.

Yusuf Latief, spokesman of national search and rescue agency, said there were likely no survivors.

At least 23 government officials, four employees of state tin miner PT Timah and three employees of a Timah subsidiary, were on the plane. A Lion Air official said one Italian passenger and one Indian pilot were on board.

The plane went down in waters about 30 metres to 35 metres (98 to 115 ft) deep. Items such as handphones and life vests were found, along with the body parts.

Watch: Search under way for Lion Air plane that crashed

Ambulances were lined up at Karawang, on the coast east of Jakarta, and police were preparing rubber dinghies, a Reuters reporter said. Fishing boats were being used to help search.

Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group, told reporters the aircraft had had a technical problem on a flight from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta but it had been “resolved according to procedure”.

Sirait declined to specify the nature of the issue but said none of its other aircraft of that model had the same problem. Lion had operated 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and it had no plan to ground the rest of them, he said.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet.

Privately owned Lion Air said the aircraft had been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.

Boeing was deeply saddened by the loss, it said in a statement, and was ready to provide technical assistance for the investigation.

Data from FlightRadar24 shows the first sign of something amiss was around two minutes into the flight, when the plane had reached 2,000 feet (610 m).

It descended more than 500 feet (152 m) and veered to the left before climbing again to 5,000 feet (1,524 m), where it stayed during most of the rest of the flight.

It began gaining speed in the final moments and reached 345 knots (397 mph) before data was lost when it was at 3,650 feet (1,113 m).

Indonesia’s worst air disaster was in 1997, when a Garuda Indonesia A300 crashed in the city of Medan, killing 214 people.

Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.

In April, the airline announced a firm order to buy 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 narrowbody jets with a list price of $6.24 billion. It is one of the U.S. planemaker’s largest customers globally.

First Published: Oct 29, 2018 15:49 IST