62 passengers missing after Indonesian plane disappears over sea minutes after take-off

9 January 2021, 10:48 | Updated: 10 January 2021, 08:25

The Indonesian Boeing passenger plane went missing on Saturday
The Indonesian Boeing passenger plane went missing on Saturday. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A passenger plane carrying 62 people has disappeared over the sea in Indonesia just minutes after taking off.

The Sriwijaya Air flight SJY 182 lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after departing from Soekarno-Hatta airport, Jakarta, for Pontianak, in West Kalimantan province.

Data on Flightradar suggests the Boeing 737-500 jet fell 10,000ft (3,000m) over the Java Sea in less than a minute.

Debris found later by fishermen is being examined to see if it was from the missing Sriwijaya Air flight, officials said.

Indonesia's transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said Flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before it took off from Jakarta at 2.36pm local time (7.36am GMT).

Indonesian airliner carrying 62 goes missing on domestic flight

The Boeing 737-500 disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 29,000ft, he said.

The airline said in a statement that the plane was on an estimated 90-minute flight from Jakarta to Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan province on Indonesia's Borneo island.

Read more: Trump uses POTUS account to hit back at Twitter following ban

Read more: Kim Jong-un vows to expand North Korea's nuclear arsenal

The plane was carrying 50 passengers and 12 crew members, all Indonesian nationals, including six extra crew for another trip.

Mr Sumadi said a dozen vessels, including four warships, were deployed in a search-and-rescue operation centred between Lancang island and Laki island, part of the Thousand Islands chain just north of Jakarta.

Bambang Suryo Aji, the national search and rescue gency's deputy head of operations and preparedness, said rescuers collected plane debris and clothes that were found by fishermen.

They handed the items over to officials for further investigation to determine whether they were from the missing plane.

Read more: Most Covid patients have at least one symptom six months later - study

Watch: London patients queue for Covid vaccine in near-freezing temperatures

A commander of one of the search-and-rescue ships who goes by a single name, Eko, said that fishermen found cables and pieces of metal in the water.

"The fishermen told us that they found them shortly after they heard an explosion like the sound of thunder," Eko was quoted by TVOne as saying, adding that aviation fuel was found in the location where the fishermen found the debris.

Mr Aji said no radio beacon signal had been detected from the 26-year-old plane.

The passenger flight disappeared over the sea near Jakarta Bay
The passenger flight disappeared over the sea near Jakarta Bay. Picture: Flightradar

He said his agency was investigating why the plane's emergency locator transmitter, or ELT, was not transmitting a signal that could confirm whether it had crashed.

"The satellite system owned by neighbouring Australia also did not pick up on the ELT signal from the missing plane," Aji said.

Solihin, 22, a fisherman from Lancang Island, said he and two other fishermen heard an explosion around 30 meters from them.

"We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water after the explosion.

"It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat," he said.

The Sriwijaya Air flight fell 10,000ft in less than a minute shortly after departure
The Sriwijaya Air flight fell 10,000ft in less than a minute shortly after departure. Picture: PA

Tracking service Flightradar24 said on its Twitter feed that Flight SJ182 lost more than 10,000ft of altitude in less than a minute, about four minutes after take-off.

Sriwijaya Air president Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane was airworthy. He told reporters that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang city on the same day.

He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not because of any damage.

It was raining at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport when the plane took off for Pontianak, around 460 miles away.

Map locating Jakarta, Indonesia
Map locating Jakarta, Indonesia. Picture: PA

Television footage showed relatives and friends of people aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited at airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.

Chicago-based Boeing said on its Twitter feed that it was aware of the incident. It said it was closely monitoring the situation and "working to gather more information".

The twin-engine, single aisle Boeing 737 is one of the world's most popular planes for short and medium-haul flights.

The 737-500 is a shorter version of the widely used 737 model. Airlines began using this type of plane in the 1990s, with production ending two decades ago.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

The Met Office has issued multiple "very high" warnings for pollen count

'Pollen bomb' to explode over UK - here's how to survive it

Dua Lipa suffered a security scare while rehearsing for her Glastonbury appearance

TikToker breaks into Dua Lipa rehearsals for Glastonbury and makes 'total prat' of themselves in security scare

Crazy Town frontman Shifty Shellshock has died at the age of 49

Crazy Town singer Shifty Shellshock - who was behind huge 2000s hit Butterfly dies at 49

Jay Slater (main) and Tenerife police hin ting for the missing Brit

Jay Slater detectives find different missing Briton while searching Tenerife gorge

Tommy Robinson has been arrested

Tommy Robinson arrested in Canada for immigration offences and stripped of passport

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast at Global Studios in Leicester Square, London. Picture date: Tuesday June 25, 2024.

James Cleverly debates Yvette Cooper on immigration | Watch Again

Exclusive
Home Secretary James Cleverly (left) and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper take part in a live immigration debate on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast

Yvette Cooper says Labour will 'work with other countries' on migrant returns despite pledging to axe Rwanda scheme

The Tories have withdrawn support for two candidates being investigated over betting allegations.

Tories withdraw support for candidates caught up in election betting scandal

Yvette Cooper has dismissed claims made by James Cleverley on LBC

Yvette Cooper dismisses claims migrants are sitting in France 'waiting for Labour government'

Yvette Cooper slammed Just Stop Oil as 'pathetic'

Yvette Cooper slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil as she brands Stonehenge stunt a 'total disgrace'

Exclusive
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper clashed on immigration

Labour will open door to 100,000 more migrants, James Cleverly claims, as Yvette Cooper accuses him of lying

Exclusive
James Cleverly and Yvette Cooper on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

Labour won't get rid of 'incredibly expensive' Bibby Stockholm on day one, says Yvette Cooper

Hot weather has hit the UK

Exact date 35C 'pulses' from Europe to boost UK's sweltering heatwave, as temperatures soar

Lord Robertson said it is "total nonsense" that the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Nigel Farage is 'cuddling up to the Kremlin', says ex-Nato boss amid claims West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Sir Keir Starmer has told a headteacher that her private school should ‘work to ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’.

Private schools must ‘ensure costs are kept affordable for parents’, Starmer tells headteacher amid plans for tax raid

Exclusive
Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation

One person a week killed by criminal on probation, as ex-Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public's safety