Jakarta (Indonesia), Oct 29: All of the 189 people on board Lion Air plane are suspected to be dead as the plane crashed into the sea minutes after it took off from Indonesian capital on Monday. This accidents is considered as a blow to the Indonesian aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and the US.
Lion Air sources said that the brand new aircraft was on a 1hour 10 minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain in Sumatra. It was carrying 181 passengers including one child and two babies and eight crew members. All are feared dead in the tragic accident.
Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smart phone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.
Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field. Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport.
The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) deploy Special Basarnas Group (BSG) in search of passengers at the crash site.
“We don't know yet whether there are any survivors,” agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft's emergency transmitter. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
He said that items such as hand phones and life vests were found in waters about 30 meters to 35 meters (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, identified by air tracking service Flight radar 24 as a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact.
“We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist,” Syaugi said. “We are trying to dive down to find the wreck.”
At least 23 government officials were aboard the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact.
“We don't dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet,” Edward Sirait, the chief executive of Lion Air Group, told Reuters. “We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane.” (Inputs from agencies)