Monday, October 29, 2018

Indonesia plane crash: flight JT610 plunges into waters off Jakarta

A passenger plane carrying 189 people has crashed into the sea off Jakarta minutes after taking off on a domestic flight to an Indonesian tin-mining region.

Lion Air flight JT610, travelling from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka, lost contact with air traffic control about 13 minutes after it took off, shortly after its pilot had asked to return to base. Flight data showed it made a sudden, sharp dive into the sea.

There was no sign of survivors from the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet, a new model that was launched globally only last year. The specific plane had only been in use for two months. Rescue officials said later on Monday they had recovered human remains from the crash site, about nine miles (15km) off the coast.

Lion Air’s chief executive, Edward Sirait, told reporters the plane had suffered “a technical issue” on Sunday night but engineers had cleared it to fly on Monday morning.

“This plane previously flew from Denpasar to Jakarta,” he said. “There was a report of a technical issue which had been resolved according to procedure.”

Sirait did not elaborate on the specific issue, and said he had no plans to ground the rest of Lion Air’s Max 8 fleet. The airline operates 11 of the Boeing planes.
On Monday, rescuers released footage of debris and personal items floating in the water at the crash site, including handbags, clothing, mobile phones, ID cards and driving licences.

One relative waiting at Pangkal Pinang airport told the Associated Press her sister was on the flight. Feni, who uses a single name, told reporters: “We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiancee, her in-law-to-be and a friend of them. We don’t have any information. We’re confused. We hope that our family is still alive.”
Roughly 20 of the 189 people onboard were Indonesian finance department officials who had travelled to Jakarta for a conference.

A statement from Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter had not sent out a distress signal, despite being certified to work until August 2019.

The plane went down in waters about 30-35 metres (98-115 ft) deep. Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman posted video of debris on Twitter.
Another official said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, with the plane’s black box, comprising the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, yet to be recovered. But it was confirmed that the pilot had requested to turn back shortly after takeoff.

“We will collect all data from the control tower,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono, the official. “The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the black box.”
29/10/18 Kate Lamb in Jakarta, Naaman Zhou and agencies/Guardian

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