Indonesian plane missing with 62 aboard after losing radar contact
By Miriam Berger,
Indonesian authorities mobilized search teams Saturday after a passenger jet carrying 62 people lost contact with air traffic controllers on a domestic flight, Indonesia’s transportation ministry said.
The Boeing 737-500 flown by Sriwijaya Air went off radar screens shortly after leaving the capital, Jakarta, on a 90-minute flight to Pontianakon on Indonesia’s Borneo island, said Adita Irawati, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry, the Associated Press reported.
Fifty-six passengers and six crew members were on board.
Flightradar24, which monitors air traffic, wrote on its Twitter account that the 27-year-old plane “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta.”
As search and rescue efforts expanded, fisherman in the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north of Jakarta, told local media they had spotted metal objects appearing to be parts of a plane.
Indonesian media also aired footage of distraught friends and families of passengers gathered at the Jakarta and Pontianakon airports, weeping and praying.
A Boeing statement said that it was “aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information.”
Sriwijaya Air told Reuters news agency they were also still gathering information.
In late 2018, a Boeing 737 Max flown by Indonesian airline Lion Air went down, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
The 737 Max was grounded worldwide after a crash five months later in Ethiopia blamed on a design flaw in the flight control system. Investigators later determined that a software flaw and other problems had been overlooked or minimized by company engineers.
In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed into the sea, killing 162 people, on a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.
Lori Aratani in Washington contributed to this report.