A CHILD was among the six bodies pulled from the sea after a plane carrying 189 people crashed in Indonesia today just moments after the pilot reported “technical difficulties”.
No survivors have been found after the Lion Air flight JT-610 crashed 13 minutes after its 6.20am take-off while the firm’s CEO said the jet underwent repair work last night.
The remains of six people, including that of a child, have so far been retrieved from the waters of West Java by emergency workers who have been pictured carrying body bags at Tanjung Priok Harbour in northern Jakarta.
Senior rescue officials Bambang Suryo Aji said that it is “likely” that all the people on board the jet have died.
He said: “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.”
Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, clothing, ID cards, life vests and bags that have been collected by search and rescue teams.
The aircraft, on a 1 hour and 10 minute flight, was said to be carrying 189 people, including one child, two babies, and seven crew members.
One Italian national and at least 23 government officials were on board the plane which was travelling to the city of Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka.
The plane’s Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja had reported “technical difficulties” and asked air traffic control to return to the airport minutes after taking off, according to reports.
Following his distress call, the jet vanished from radar before losing altitude and plunging into the sea.
Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait confirmed this morning that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 had gone into service months ago and underwent repair work to resolve a technical issue on Sunday night.
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
- Lion Air flight JT610 crashed 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta
- 189 were on board, including 178 adult passengers, 1 child, two babies, two pilots and six flight attendants
- No survivors have been found
- The aircraft was travelling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang in Indonesia
- The pilot requested a return to the airport shortly before the crash
- Rescuers have posted pictures online of a crushed phone, books, clothing, ID cards and bags that have been found
- The plane was a new model – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – and had only been in use for two months
- Lion Air’s CEO said the plane had reported a technical problem on Sunday night
He told AFP: “It got repaired in Denpasar (in Bali) and then it was flown to Jakarta.
“Engineers in Jakarta received notes and did another repair before it took off’ on Monday. That’s the normal procedure for any plane.”
Sirait, the chief executive of Lion Air, added: “We don’t dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet. We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane.”
Lion Air said the pilot Suneja and co-pilot Harvino were experienced, with more than 11,000 flight hours between them.
A report to the Jakarta Search and Rescue Office cited the crew of a tug boat which had reported seeing a Lion Air flight falling from the sky.
Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman posted video of some debris on Twitter.
Muhmmad Syaugi, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue, said: “We are trying to dive down to find the wreck.”
Data for Flight 610 on aircraft tracking website FlightAware ends just a few minutes following takeoff.
The cabin crew were Shintia Melina, Citra Noivita Anggelia, Alviani Hidayatul Solikha, Damayanti Simarmata, Mery Yulianda, and Deny Maula.
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 boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.
Soerjanto Tjahjono said: “We will collect all data from the control tower. The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox.”
The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s single-aisle jet.
The first Boeing 737 MAX jets were introduced into service in 2017.
Boeing is aware of the airplane accident reports and is “closely monitoring” the situation.
The emergency beacon did not emit a distress call, despite it being certified to work until August 2019.
Indonesian TV showed dozens of people waiting outside the Pangkal Pinang airport and officials bringing out plastic chairs.
One relative waiting at Pangkal Pingang airport told the Associated Press her sister was on the flight. Feni, who uses a single name, told reporters: “We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law-to-be and a friend of them.
“We don’t have any information. No one provided us with any information that we need. We’re confused.”
The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
In 2013, Lion Air flight 904 crashed into the sea on landing at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. All 108 people on board survived.
The European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe in 2007 due to safety concerns. Lion Air was allowed to resume flights to Europe as of June 2016, and the ban on all other Indonesian airlines was lifted earlier this year.
The U.S. lifted a decade-long ban in 2016.