Authorities have so far taken away 24 body bags
JAKARTA — Oct. 29, 2018: The Lion Air crash early this morning will be Indonesia’s second-worst air disaster since 1997 if all 189 passengers and crew have died.
Indonesia’s worst air disaster since then happened when a Garuda Indonesia A300 crashed in the northern Sumatra city of Medan, killing 234 people.
Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.
Authorities told Metro TV that 24 bags containing body parts had been taken to a hospital for identification, with more expected overnight.
On tarpaulins at Jakarta’s port, officers laid out items retrieved from the sea ranging from oxygen bottles to personal
belongings such as wallets, a mobile phone, cash and backpacks, Reuters reported.
At least 23 government officials, four employees of state tin miner PT Timah and three employees of a Timah subsidiary, were on the plane. A Lion Air official said one Italian passenger and an Indian pilot were on board.
Speaking at a hospital, a tearful Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati paid tribute to the 21 officials from her
ministry on the doomed flight who she said “died doing their duty”.
Lion Air flight JT610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route from here to Pangkal Pinang, centre of the
Bangka-Belitung tin mining region. Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record is patchy.
“An RTB (return to base) was requested and had been approved but we’re still trying to figure out the reason,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told reporters.
Search and rescue agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.
A witness in the Karawang district nearest to the crash site said he heard an explosion from the beach.
“I thought it was thunder, but it was different from thunder – ‘boom’ it was loud,” said Dadang Hambali.
Bambang Suryo, operational director of the search and rescue agency, said divers had stopped the search for the night, but sonar vessels would continue hunting for the fuselage, where many of the victims were believed to be trapped.
An underwater drone is also trying to find the wreckage.
The flight took off in clear weather at around 6.20 a.m. and
was due to have landed in Pangkal Pinang at 7.20 a.m.
Data from FlightRadar24 shows the first sign of something amiss came around two minutes into the flight, when the plane had reached 2,000 feet. It descended more than 500 feet and veered to the left before climbing again to 5,000 feet, where it stayed during most of the rest of the flight.
It began gaining speed in the final moments and reached 345 knots (397 mph) before data was lost when it was at 3,650 feet.