Rescuers started pulling body parts out of the water Monday after a new Boeing 737 belonging to discount carrier Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea.
The flight went down 13 minutes after take off from the Indonesian capital Jakarta. Officials said it is likely that all 189 people on board were killed.
Flight JT610 was headed for Pangkal Pinang, part of an island chain off Sumatra, when it lost contact around 06.30 local time. More than 300 people, including fishermen, soldiers and police are involved in the search effort. Along with human remains, rescuers have found plane debris and personal effects, including ID cards and clothes
“We need to find the main wreckage,” Bambang Suryo, operational director of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters. “I predict there are no survivors, based on body parts found so far.”
Asked if there was any hope of finding survivors, the agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said: “We are waiting for the miracle from God.”
The cause of the crash remains unclear.
The latest incident will call into question Indonesia’s safety record just months after the EU lifted an 11-year ban that stopped Indonesian carriers flying to Europe.
In the wake of the tragedy, the Australian government instructed officials and contractors Monday not to fly Lion Air.
Here’s what we know so far:
- On board were 181 passengers, including two babies and a child, along with eight crew. Everyone on board was Indonesian, apart from one Italian tourist and the captain, Indian Bhavye Suneja. Twenty employees from the Indonesian Finance Ministry were also on board.
- The plane took off at 06.20 local time (19.00 Sunday ET). The pilot made a “return to base” request less than three minutes after take off. It plunged into the sea 10 minutes later, having reached an altitude of 5,200 feet.
- Indonesia’s meteorological service said weather conditions at the time were perfect.
- The brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 only entered service two months ago but had experienced a technical difficulty on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta. According to Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait, that problem was fixed. Flight JT610 marks the first incident involving the updated version of the Boeing 737.
Cover image: Rescue team members stand beside body bags with the remains of passengers of Lion Air, flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at the Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. (REUTERS/Stringer)