A relative of passengers prays as she and others wait for news on a Lion Air plane that crashed off Java Island at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. Indonesia disaster agency says that the Lion Air Boeing 737-800 plane crashed into sea shortly after it left Indonesia’s capital Monday morning. (AP Photo/Hadi Sutrisno)

Indonesia says survivors unlikely from Lion Air plane crash

A lion Air plane crashed into the sea likely killing all 189 people on board

A Lion Air plane crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on Monday, likely killing all 189 people on board, in a blow to the country’s aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S.

The national search and rescue agency said human remains have been recovered from the crash area. Its director of operations, Bambang Suryo Aji, told a news conference the search effort is focusing on finding bodies, and survivors are not expected.

More than 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen were involved in the search that has also recovered ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris. At least a dozen ambulances were parked at a nearby beach.

Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels.

President Joko Widodo ordered the transport safety commission to investigate and urged Indonesians to “keep on praying” as rescuers search for victims.

An air transport official, Novie Riyanto, said the flight was cleared to return to Jakarta after the pilot made a “return to base” request two to three minutes after taking off. It plunged into the sea about 10 minutes later. Weather conditions were normal but the brand new aircraft had experienced a technical issue on its previous flight.

Lion Air said the jet, on a 1 hour and 10 minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

RELATED: Lion Air plane crashes into sea, 189 on board

It said there were two foreigners on board the plane: its pilot, originally from New Delhi, and an Italian citizen.

Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport and at a crisis centre set up at Jakarta’s airport. Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field in the ocean.

At the search agency’s headquarters in Jakarta, family members arrived, hoping desperately for news.

Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon to be married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang.

“We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them,” said Feni.

“We don’t have any information,” she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. “No one provided us with any information that we need. We’re confused. We hope that our family is still alive.”

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani also arrived at the agency and met with its chief, seeking information about 20 ministry staff who were on the flight after attending a ministry event in Jakarta. Photos circulating online showed the distraught minister trying to comfort stunned colleagues.

The search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30 to 35 metres (98 to 115 feet) deep.

The agency’s chief, Muhammad Syaugi, told a news conference that divers are trying to locate the wreckage.

Weather conditions for the flight were safe, according to the Indonesian meteorology agency. It said the type of clouds associated with turbulence was not present and winds were weak.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 was delivered to Lion Air in mid-August and put in use within days, according to aviation website Flightradar24. Malindo Air, a Malaysian subsidiary of Jakarta-based Lion Air, was the first airline to being using the 737 Max 8 last year. The Max 8 replaced the similar 800 in the Chicago-based plane maker’s product line.

Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait said the plane had a “technical problem” on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta but it had been fully remedied. He didn’t know specifics of the problem when asked in a TV interview. The pilot of Flight 610 had more than 6,000 flying hours while the co-pilot had more than 5,000 hours, according to the airline.

“Indeed there were reports about a technical problem, and the technical problem has been resolved in accordance with the procedures released by the plane manufacturer,” he said. “I did not know exactly but let it be investigated by the authorities.”

Boeing Co. said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash and was prepared to provide technical assistance to Indonesia’s crash probe.

In a statement, the Chicago-based manufacturer expressed its concern for the 189 people onboard and offered “heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

The Transport Ministry said the plane took off from Jakarta at about 6:20 a.m. and crashed just 13 minutes later. Data from FlightAware showed it had reached an altitude of only 5,200 feet (1,580 metres).

The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. The ban was completely lifted in June this year. The U.S. lifted a decadelong ban in 2016.

Lion Air, a discount carrier, is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.

Achmad Ibrahim And Stephen Wright, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Const. Graham Walker of the Saanich Traffic Safety Unit recreates an incident involving a driver who police say attempted to film the scene of a crash while driving up Highway 17. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Police track down driver caught filming accident scene on Pat Bay Highway

Driver issued $368 ticket, points on their licence

The 21st annual Japanese Cultural Fair streams online Oct. 24 from noon to 3 p.m. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)
Esquimalt’s Japanese Cultural Fair takes tastes, experiences and cultures online

21st annual free event streams Saturday, Oct. 24 starting at noon

Victoria High School. (Black Press Media file photo)
Alumni Association abandons plans for eight-lane track at Vic High

SD61 spokesperson says easement, which makes 8-lane track impossible, left out of consultation

Victoria police Chief Const. Del Manak appreciates the efforts of residents and business owners who took part in the VicPD community survey. The questionnaire saw a combined nearly 1,000 respondents from Victoria and Esquimalt. (Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD survey says: overall satisfaction positive, accountability needs work

Respondents feel safe during day, not so much at night; more police presence would help

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is looking for this man, who they say stole a charity box. (Facebook/Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Crime Stoppers looking for man who stole charity box from Saanich grocery store

Anyone with information asked to call Crime Stoppers

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read