Rescuers make grim discoveries during search for missing Indonesian plane – as fisherman describes moment jet ‘fell like lightning and exploded in the water’
- Rescuers discovered body parts and pieces of clothing during a sea search
- Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 took off from Soekarno-Hatta airport on Saturday
- Four minutes after takeoff the plane plunged nearly 3,300 metres in 60 seconds
- Locals on a nearby island heard two explosions before discovering metal pieces
- Fifty-six passengers, including seven kids and three babies, were on board
Rescuers have discovered body parts and pieces of clothing during a desperate search for a missing Indonesian plane which mysteriously crashed after taking off on Saturday afternoon.
Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, with 62 people on board, took off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport for a 90-minute flight over the Java Sea between Jakarta and Pofntianak in West Kalimantan.
But at 2.40pm – just four minutes after takeoff – the Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 3,300 metres in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 75 metres, with witnesses claiming they heard two explosions.
Rescuers have discovered body parts and pieces of clothing during a desperate search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi on Sunday said authorities launched a widespread search for the Boeing 737-500 after narrowing down ‘the possible location of the crash site’
The Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 3,300 metres in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 75 metres. Pictured: debris discovered in the ocean
These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island, National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito said
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi on Sunday said authorities launched a widespread search for the Boeing 737-500 after narrowing down ‘the possible location of the crash site’.
‘These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island,’ National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito said.
Personnel on the Rigel navy ship detected a signal from the fallen plane, in line with the coordinates from the last contact made by the pilots.
‘We have immediately deployed our divers from navy’s elite unit to determine the finding to evacuate the victims,’ Indonesian military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said.
Captain EKo Surya Hadi, commander of a local life boat, told local television that human remains were found, saying: ‘We found body parts, life jackets, avtur (aviation turbine fuel) and debris of the plane.’
A fisherman, named Solihin, told the BBC that he had been at sea when he witnessed the plane crash into the water near to his ship.
‘The plane fell like lightning into the sea and exploded in the water. It was pretty close to us, the shards of a kind of plywood almost hit my ship.
‘We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water.
‘It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad… We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.’
Locals on a nearby island said they heard two explosions before discovering metal pieces, cables and fragments of a pair of jeans floating in the sea.
Fifty-six passengers – including seven kids and three babies, two pilots and four cabin crew were on board the 26-year-old plane.
Indonesian search and rescue officers inspect a bag with wreckage believed to be of the missing plane at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia
The plane – believed to be a Boeing B737-500 – is understood to have fallen 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after it took off
The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189.
Mr Sumadi said the doomed flight was delayed for an hour before it took off at 2.36pm.
But the aircraft disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude 8,839 meters.
A dozen vessels – including four warships – were deployed in a search and rescue operation centered between Lancang island and Laki island, part of the Thousand Islands chain just north of Jakarta.
‘Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than [3,000 metres] of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,’ the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.