Sriwijaya Air crash site found, Indonesian military says

Indonesian rescue workers carry part of what is believed to be the wreckage of the crashed Sriwijaya Air plane - ©Achmad Ibrahim/AP Photo


(DW) - Flight SJ182 disappeared from radars shortly after takeoff from Jakarta with 62 people on board. Rescuers have pulled body parts and wreckage from the Java Sea.

Indonesian authorities on Sunday said they have identified the crash site of flight SJ182. The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 lost contact shortly after takeoff on Saturday from Jakarta with 62 people on board.

A military vessel found the signal from (Sriwijaya Air) SJ182 and a diver team recovered parts of the plane from around 23 meters (75 feet) below the water's surface in the Java Sea.

"We are sure that is the point where the plane crashed," Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said in a statement.

Earlier, Indonesian rescuers said they have retrieved body parts, items of clothing, and scraps of metal from the Java Sea between Lancang Island and Laki Island, an archipelago around Thousand Islands north of Jakarta's coast.

"Hopefully, until this afternoon the current conditions and the view under the sea are still good so that we can continue the search," Tjahjanto added.

Another likely piece of the wreckage of the crashed Sriwijaya Air jet is inspected by Indonesian navy personnel - ©Antara Photo/Reuters



What happened to flight SJ182:

  • The plane took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta Airport at about 2:36 p.m. (07:36 UTC) Saturday.
  • The flight was bound for the city of Pontianak, northwest of Jakarta.
  • There were 62 people on board, including 10 children.
  • The flight last made contact around 2:40 p.m.
  • The plane lost more than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) of altitude in less than a minute, according to FlightRadar24.
  • A sea and air search effort was launched, including 11 navy ships, two helicopters and 300 personnel.

The plane was heading northwest towards the city of Pontianak when it started losing altitude - ©flightradar/AP


A 'tragedy'

"I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my deep condolences for this tragedy," President Joko Widodo said.

"We are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together so that the victims can be found," he said.

"Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time," Boeing said in a statement.


Relatives of those on the two flights gathered at two crisis centers


Crisis center for relatives

Authorities established two crisis centers, including one at the airport. Families gathered to wait for news of loved ones.

Indonesian TV footage showed relatives and friends of those aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other.


Why did the plane crash?

Sriwijaya Air has said it was investigating the tragedy.

Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena told a news conference that: "[The] maintenance report said everything went well and airworthy,"

He added that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.

He said a delay in the plane taking off was due to bad weather.

Journalist Kresna Astraatmadja spoke to DW from Jakarta, explaining that the airline did not have a poor reputation before the crash.

But he also pointed out that the aircraft in question was old and had already made four journeys since the early morning.

Boeing has been plagued with problems ever since manufacturing the infamous 737 Max model that was involved in two deadly crashes in less than a year.

The plane that crashed on Saturday was nearly 27-years-old and did not use the new, problematic MCAS systems built into the current-generation 737 Max planes.


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