Lion Air passenger plane crashes in Indonesia, 189 people on board

Pakisjaya ( Indonesia) , Oct 29 : There were 189 passengers on board the crashed Lion Air plane that left Jakarta on Monday.

Officials say 189 people were on board, up from an earlier report of 188. At least one child, two babies and 178 passengers were one board, plus at least seven crew.

The jet, flying from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang in Bangka Belitung province, took off at around 6.20am Jakarta time (12.20pm NZ time) on Monday but lost contact with air traffic control at 6.33am, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Basarnas.

A Lion Air jet flying from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang in Bangka Belitung province has crashed into the ocean, according to Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas.

Reuters reports the plane’s pilot made a request to return to the airport shortly before the crash.

“The [traffic] control allowed that, but then it lost contact,” the country’s air navigation authority spokesman said.

Basarnas chief Muhammad Syaugi said Indonesian authorities are not yet able to say how many people have died in the crash, and added body parts have been seen floating near the crash site.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter.

“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”

The agency has sent out boats and helicopters to search for the plane and had also found wreckage, and life jackets. About 150 rescuers, including 30 divers, have been dispatched to the crash scene.

Syaugi said the search and rescue teams had come from Jakarta, Bandung and Lampung and were headed to Tanjung Karawang, where the plane is believed to have gone down.

The plane sank in water believed to be 30 to 35 metres deep. The black box has not yet been located.

It’s believed the emergency locator transmitter (ELT) on the plane was inactive.

Syaugi said Indonesia had checked with Australian authorities to see if any signal from the ELT had been intercepted, but it had not.

“We will collect all data from the control tower,” Soerjanto Tjahjono told the news conference. “The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox.”

We’re following reports that contact has been lost with Lion Air flight #JT610 shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the New Zealand embassy in Jakarta was monitoring the situation closely.

Lion Air, which flies to 126 destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and China, is the second-largest low-cost carrier in south-east Asia (after Malaysia’s AirAsia), and is growing fast.

The low-cost carrier had a poor safety record for many years. It was banned by the EU from flying over European airspace along with other Indonesian airlines in 2007, and the ban was only lifted in 2016.

Since 2002, Lion Air has had more than a dozen major incidents or accidents. The most deadly was in 2004 when a plane overshot the runway and crashed into a cemetery in Surakarta, killing 31 people.

In 2013, a Lion Air flight with more than 100 people on board crashed into the water off Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. All on board survived with a few minor injuries, despite the fuselage breaking in half.

The following year, a similar crash saw a Lion plane land short of the Bali runway, injuring 46 people, four seriously. That crash was blamed on pilot error.

Lion pilots have tested positive to methamphetamine on a number of occasions since 2011, leading to concern of a culture of drug use among Indonesian pilots. The most recent case was in December 2017 when a senior pilot was arrested for crystal meth possession after a hotel room raid, and tested positive for the drug a day before he was due to fly.

Despite that case, Lion Air appeared to have recently lifted its game, and was rewarded with a top safety ranking by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in January 2018 and was upgraded to the top safety tier by, the global airline rating agency.

Chief of Indonesia’s disaster agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, tweeted images of some of the wreckage and belongings that had been found by rescuers after Lion Air flight JT610 crashed.
This latest crash is likely to undo any trust the airline had gained in recent times.

The crash is reportedly the first involving the widely sold 737 Max, an updated and more efficient version of the single-aisle jet. The crashed aircraft had just 800 hours of flight time, the country’s National Transportation Safety Committee said.


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