Indonesia’s Lion Air with 189 passengers crashes into the sea

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

Lion jet had technical problem on prior flight

Lion Air’s president says the plane that crashed into the sea Monday had a technical problem on its last flight that was resolved.


Airline President Edward Sirait said Monday the technical problem on Boeing 737 Max 8 plane was resolved in accordance with the manufacturer’s procedures. He wasn’t more specific but said the problem on the earlier flight would be part of the investigation of Monday’s crash.

Separately, Indonesia’s Directorate-General of Air Transportation said the flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang requested to return to Jakarta shortly after takeoff from the capital’s airport. The plane crashed into the sea about 13 minutes after takeoff.

In a statement about the tragedy, the air transportation agency’s spokesman Sindu Rahayu said, “The plane had requested a return to base before disappearing from the radar.” It gave no other details about the request.

Deeply saddened

Boeing says it is “deeply saddened” by the crash of a Lion Air off the Indonesian coast and offered to help with the investigation.

Lion Air Flight 610 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Monday morning. Searchers so far have found plane debris and personal items but no bodies.

The 737 Max 8 plane was bound for Pangkal Pinang, an island chain off Sumatra.

The Chicago-based planemaker said it is prepared to provide technical assistance into the crash probe, which will be carried out by Indonesian investigators.

In its statement, Boeing Co. expressed its concern for the 189 people onboard, and offered “heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones.”

Flight debrispersonnel looking at items believed to be from the wreckage of the Lion Air flight JT 610, recovered off the coast of Indonesia’s Java island. AFP

Families turn up

Families are turning up at Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency headquarters in Jakarta for word of their loved ones after a Lion Air plane crashed at sea.

Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani met with the agency chief, seeking information about 20 finance ministry staff who were on the flight. The Boeing plane disappeared Monday morning and the search is concentrating in oil-slickened waters where debris has been found.

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,” she said.

Lion AirRelatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea, cry at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia. Reuters

Brand-new aircraft

Aviation tracking website Flightradar24 says the Lion Air plane that crashed after takeoff from Jakarta was a brand-new aircraft that has only been in use for a couple of months.

The site says the 737 Max 8 plane was registered as PK-LQP and was delivered to the airline in August.

Vessels searching in the water for the Flight 610 wreckage have found various items of debris.

The Max 8 is part of Boeing Co.’s latest narrow-body 737 series. It replaced the similar 737-800 in the Chicago-based planemaker’s product line.

Boeing spokesman Paul Lewis says Boeing is “closely monitoring the situation” but did not provide details on the aircraft in question.

Crash, initial report

Indonesia’s disaster agency says a Lion Air passenger jet crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta and was carrying 188 passengers and crew.

Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho posted photos on Twitter of debris including a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.

He said the flight was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and seven crew members.

Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field.

Rescue efforts

A search and rescue effort is being conducted at sea for a Lion Air passenger jet that lost contact shortly after it left Jakarta.

The Boeing 737-800 departed the Indonesian capital about 6.20 a.m. for Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra. Data for Flight 610 on aircraft tracking website FlightAware ends just a few minutes following takeoff.

“We can confirm that one of our flights has lost contact,” said Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro. “Its position cannot be ascertained yet.”

A telegram from the National Search and Rescue Agency to the air force has requested assistance with the search of a location at sea off Java.

A report to the Jakarta Search and Rescue Office cites the crew of a tug boat reporting a Lion Air flight falling from the sky. It said several vessels have headed to the location.

Lost contact

Indonesia’s Lion Air says it has lost contact with a passenger jet flying from Jakarta to an island off Sumatra.

A search and rescue effort has been launched for the Boeing 737-800 plane which departed Jakarta about 6.20 a.m. on Monday.

Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said “we can confirm that one of our flights has lost contact, its position cannot be ascertained yet.”

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