By Elton Gomes
The Boeing 737, owned by the low-cost Indonesian airline Lion Air, went down after taking off from the capital Jakarta. Carrying a total of 188 passengers, flight JT 610 was headed for the western city of Pangkal Pinang. Rescuers were able to recovered some bodies and personal items.
There is no sign of survivors. During the filing of this story, media reports suggested that rescue workers have retrieved six bodies from the sea. The cause of the crash, which involved a relatively new plane, remains unclear. The incident is reportedly the first major accident involving a Boeing 737 Max, which is an updated version of the 737.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” spokesperson Yusuf Latif said when asked about the fate of the plane, Reuters reported.
By Monday afternoon, officials presumed that there were no survivors left. “I suspect all the passengers are dead,” said Marine Brigadier General Bambang Suryo, director of operations for the search and rescue agency, as per a New York Times report.
Air Marshal Muhammad Syaugi, chief of the search and rescue agency, said that a team of 30 divers was engaged in searching for the plane’s black boxes and other critical pieces of evidence to determine the cause of the crash.
Syaugi said that no explosion was heard by witnesses as the plane hurtled into the sea, presumably eliminating the possibility that a bomb could have caused the crash.
Flight JT 610 took off from Jakarta at 06:20 am on Monday (23:30 GMT on Sunday). It was due to arrive at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang an hour later. However, 13 minutes after the flight took off, authorities lost contact. The pilot had asked to return to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport, officials have said.
Lion Air’s CEO Edward Sirait said the plane had an unspecified “technical issue” on a previous flight, but he asserted that the issue had been “resolved”.
He further said that Lion Air operates a total of 11 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, but the others have not had a similar technical problem and there is no plan to ground the fleet, as per a report in BBC.
Boats working at crash site; debris discovered
CNN reported that debris, life vests, and a cellphone were discovered in the water two nautical miles from the coordinates given as the crash site, SAR officials said.
Boats, a helicopter, and roughly 250 rescuers, including divers, were engaged in search and rescue operations at the crash site, some 34 nautical miles off the coast near Jakarta in the Java Sea. The divers were searching in water up to 35 meters (114 feet) deep.
Indian man Bhavye Suneja was captain of flight during crash
Bhavye Suneja, the captain of the ill-fated Indonesian plane, has been declared dead in the accident, the Indian embassy in Jakarta confirmed the news, Hindustan Times reported.
Captain Suneja was originally from New Delhi, but resided in Jakarta. He attended Ahlcon Public School in Mayur Vihar, and was working at Lion Air since March 2011. Suneja was also a trainee pilot with Emirates from September and December 2010, and had reportedly clocked in almost 6,000 flying hours.
Bhavye was contemplating returning to India, according to the vice president of an Indian airline. The vice president told the Times of India that they had spoken in July, and described Suneja as a “sweet sounding person”.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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