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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Boeing 737 ‘fell like lightning and exploded on the water’: Fisherman gives harrowing account

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A Boeing 737 passenger jet with 62 people onboard is believed to have crashed into the sea after plummeting 10,000 feet shortly following takeoff from Jakarta, with witnesses claiming they heard two explosions. 

The Sriwijaya Air plane took off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport on Saturday at 1.56pm for a 90-minute flight over the Java Sea between Jakarta and Pontianak in West Kalimantan – Indonesia’s section of Borneo island.

But at 2.40pm – just four minutes after takeoff – the Boeing B737-500 plane plunged nearly 11,000 feet in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 250 feet.

A fisherman, named Solihin, told the BBC that he had been at sea when he witnessed the plane crash into the water near to his ship: ‘The plane fell like lightning into the sea and exploded in the water. It was pretty close to us, the shards of a kind of plywood almost hit my ship.’ 

There are feared to be 62 people on the 26-year-old plane, including 56 passengers – seven of whom are children and three are babies – as well as two pilots and four cabin crew. 

The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189.

Families of the missing people are now fearing the worst after rescuers looking for flight SJ182 said they discovered suspected debris in the ocean north of the capital.

Locals on a nearby island said they heard two explosions before discovering metal pieces, cables and fragments of a pair of jeans floating in the sea.

A Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 passenger jet carrying 62 people has disappeared over the sea after plummeting 10,000 feet shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, reports claim. Pictured: Some suspected debris from the plane found by fisherman

A Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 passenger jet carrying 62 people has disappeared over the sea after plummeting 10,000 feet shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, reports claim. Pictured: Some suspected debris from the plane found by fisherman

Families of the passengers and crew are fearing the worse after rescuers looking for the jet say they have discovered suspected debris in the ocean north of the capital.

 Families of the passengers and crew are fearing the worse after rescuers looking for the jet say they have discovered suspected debris in the ocean north of the capital.

The plane - believed to be a Boeing B737-500 - is understood to have fallen 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after it took off

The plane – believed to be a Boeing B737-500 – is understood to have fallen 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after it took off

Terrified relatives of the 62 people onboard the missing Sriwijaya Air flight wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak - where the plane was expected to land

Terrified relatives of the 62 people onboard the missing Sriwijaya Air flight wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak – where the plane was expected to land

Indonesian soldiers are seen at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta after the Sriwijaya Air plane vanished over the ocean

Indonesian soldiers are seen at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta after the Sriwijaya Air plane vanished over the ocean

Airport officials installed barriers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 went missing

Airport officials installed barriers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 went missing

National Transportation Safety Committee chairman Suryanto Cahyono (centre) speaks to the media about Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 at the Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Tangerang

National Transportation Safety Committee chairman Suryanto Cahyono (centre) speaks to the media about Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 at the Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Tangerang

Airport staff set up a crisis centre at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for families onboard the missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182

Airport staff set up a crisis centre at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for families onboard the missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182

Indonesian military is seen at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport today. The budget airline - which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia - said only it was investigating the incident

Indonesian military is seen at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport today. The budget airline – which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia – said only it was investigating the incident

Indonesia's search and rescue agency and the National Transportation Safety Commission were also investigating, Irawati said

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency and the National Transportation Safety Commission were also investigating, Irawati said

Indonesian Police divers check their gear before embarking on the search and rescue operation for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182

Indonesian Police divers check their gear before embarking on the search and rescue operation for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182

Marines load supplies and equipment on a ship for a search and rescue operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 in Jakarta as the aircraft is suspected to have crashed into the sea

Marines load supplies and equipment on a ship for a search and rescue operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 in Jakarta as the aircraft is suspected to have crashed into the sea

A picture purporting to show the wreckage of the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane in the ocean has been shared on social media

Adita Irawati (centre) - spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation - speaks to the media during a press conference after the plane went missing

Adita Irawati (centre) – spokesperson for the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation – speaks to the media during a press conference after the plane went missing

A spokesperson for Boeing said: ‘We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information.’

Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said the Boeing 737-500 took off from Jakarta at about 1.56pm and lost contact with the control tower at 2.40pm. 

She said: ‘A Sriwijaya (Air) plane from Jakarta to Pontianak (on Borneo island) with call sign SJY182 has lost contact.

‘It last made contact at 2:40 pm (0740 GMT).’ 

A statement released by the airline confirmed that the plane – which set off in rain – was on an estimated 90-minute flight from Jakarta to Pontianak with 56 passengers and six crew members onboard.  

A search and rescue operation is underway in coordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee.

A dozen vessels – including four warships – were deployed in a search and rescue operation centered between Lancang island and Laki island, part of the Thousand Islands chain just north of Jakarta. 

Indonesian Navy officials prepare their gear for a search and rescue operation after the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane went missing

Indonesian Navy officials prepare their gear for a search and rescue operation after the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane went missing

The Indonesian budget airline jet suspected to have crashed into the sea just minutes after take-off from Jakarta had 62 passengers and crew on board, including 10 children, the transport minister said

The Indonesian budget airline jet suspected to have crashed into the sea just minutes after take-off from Jakarta had 62 passengers and crew on board, including 10 children, the transport minister said

Indonesian Navy members prepared their gear for a search and rescue operation today. The plane went missing over the ocean and is believed to have crashed

Indonesian Navy members prepared their gear for a search and rescue operation today. The plane went missing over the ocean and is believed to have crashed

Relatives of Sriwijaya Air plane passengers arrive at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to wait for news of their loved ones

Relatives of Sriwijaya Air plane passengers arrive at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to wait for news of their loved ones

Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at both Jakarta's airport and Pontianak's airport

Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at both Jakarta’s airport and Pontianak’s airport

Terrified loved ones of the 62 people feared to be dead after a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane went missing arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to wait for news

Terrified loved ones of the 62 people feared to be dead after a Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 plane went missing arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport to wait for news

Relatives of the missing passengers and crew waited for news in Supadio Airport in Pontianak - where the flight was meant to arrive. Two people are seen speaking to police

Relatives of the missing passengers and crew waited for news in Supadio Airport in Pontianak – where the flight was meant to arrive. Two people are seen speaking to police

The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes - including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189. Pictured: Police officers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport today

The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189. Pictured: Police officers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport today

There are feared to be 62 people on the 26-year-old plane, including 56 passengers - seven of whom are children and three are babies - as well as two pilots and four cabin crew. Pictured: Soldiers in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta after the plane lost contact

There are feared to be 62 people on the 26-year-old plane, including 56 passengers – seven of whom are children and three are babies – as well as two pilots and four cabin crew. Pictured: Soldiers in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta after the plane lost contact

The Sriwijaya Air plane (file image of a similar plane) took off from the Indonesian capital on Saturday and was heading to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province when it lost contact with the control room, according to local media reports

The Sriwijaya Air plane (file image of a similar plane) took off from the Indonesian capital on Saturday and was heading to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province when it lost contact with the control room, according to local media reports

A terrified loved one of one of the missing  Sriwijaya Air passengers prays as they await news. The aircraft went missing earlier today

A terrified loved one of one of the missing  Sriwijaya Air passengers prays as they await news. The aircraft went missing earlier today

Indonesian Police divers check their gear before embarking on the search and rescue operation for the missing plane

Indonesian Police divers check their gear before embarking on the search and rescue operation for the missing plane

Officials in Pontianak in West Kalimantan address the press after the flight - with 62 people on board - went missing over the Java Sea

Officials in Pontianak in West Kalimantan address the press after the flight – with 62 people on board – went missing over the Java Sea

Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at both Jakarta’s airport and Pontianak’s airport. 

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 260 million people.

Budget airline Sriwijaya Air has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. 

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

That crash – and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia – saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

President of Sriwijaya Air Jefferson Jauwena (centre) attends a press conference at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

President of Sriwijaya Air Jefferson Jauwena (centre) attends a press conference at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Navy divers are seen boarding a ship which will take them out to search for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182 which lost contact with air controllers

Navy divers are seen boarding a ship which will take them out to search for Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182 which lost contact with air controllers

Indonesian elite navy divers prepare their gear as they get ready to search for the missing Sriwijaya Air flight

Indonesian elite navy divers prepare their gear as they get ready to search for the missing Sriwijaya Air flight

Rescue personnel from the armed forces, police and Indonesia's national search and rescue set up a command post as they hunt for the missing plane

Rescue personnel from the armed forces, police and Indonesia’s national search and rescue set up a command post as they hunt for the missing plane

Budget airline Sriwijaya Air has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Pictured: Navy divers prepare to search for the plane

Budget airline Sriwijaya Air has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Pictured: Navy divers prepare to search for the plane

The chief of Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee Soerjanto Tjahjono speaks to the media during a press conference at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

The chief of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee Soerjanto Tjahjono speaks to the media during a press conference at the crisis center in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight. The missing plane (search operation, pictured) is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes - including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight. The missing plane (search operation, pictured) is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189

The reported disappearance comes just over two years after a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX plunged into the sea after taking off in Indonesia. Lion Air's flight JT-610 (stock photo) lost contact with air control in October 2018

The reported disappearance comes just over two years after a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX plunged into the sea after taking off in Indonesia. Lion Air’s flight JT-610 (stock photo) lost contact with air control in October 2018 

The crash (wreckage pictured) left all 189 people onboard dead and has been blamed on a combination of aircraft design flaws, inadequate training and maintenance problems

The crash (wreckage pictured) left all 189 people onboard dead and has been blamed on a combination of aircraft design flaws, inadequate training and maintenance problems 

However, Indonesia’s aviation sector has long suffered from a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.

In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people. 

Domestic investigators’ final report showed a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance and the pilots’ inadequate response were major factors in what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. 

This post was first published on DailyMail.

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