A Sriwijaya Airplane is suspected to have crashed several minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Saturday, according to Indonesian authorities.
Tracking of the flight SJ182 showed the plane abruptly losing altitude and the flight path ending off the coast just north of Jakarta.
The Indonesian Navy official Abdul Rasyid told Reuters that the coordinates of a Sriwijaya Airplane had been determined and that ships have been deployed to the location.
A sea and air search effort is well underway. The rescue operation, which includes 11 navy ships and two helicopters, is set to continue throughout the night.
*The plane took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport at about 2:36 p.m. (07:36 UTC).
*The flight last made contact around 2:40 p.m.
*There were 62 people on board, including several children.
*The flight was bound for the city of Pontianak, northwest of Jakarta.
*The plane lost more than 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) of altitude in less than a minute, according to FlightRadar24.
*The plane model was an older Boeing 737-500.
Officials suspect the plane crashed.
Bambang Suryo Aji, a senior official at the country’s national search and rescue agency, told AFP that the plane had likely gone down.
“We deployed our team, boats and sea riders to the location suspected to be where it went down after losing contact,” the official said.
The Regent of the Thousand Islands chain said he had information that “something fell and exploded on Laki island,” in comments to Indonesian newspaper Merdeka.
Previously, the Soekarno-Hatta Airport Branch Communications Manager Haerul Anwar said that the Sriwijaya Airplane had lost contact around Lancang Island — part of the Thousand Islands chain.
The Sriwijaya airline director, Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, told reporters that the scheduled take-off had been delayed by half an hour due to heavy rain.
Local media reports said fishermen spotted metal objects believed to be parts of a plane in the Thousand Islands.
Unconfirmed images of small debris fished from the water were broadcast by local media.
“We found some cables, a piece of jeans, and pieces of metal on the water,” CNN Indonesia quoted security official Zulkifli as saying.
A patrol boat from the Ministry of Transportation found possible human body parts and oil near to the reported crash site, local news outlet Kompas reported.
Indonesian TV footage showed relatives and friends of those aboard the plane weeping, praying and hugging each other as they waited for information at airports in Jakarta and Pontianak.
Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian budget airline, said in a statement it is still gathering more detailed information regarding the flight before it can make a fuller statement.
A Boeing spokeswoman said, “We are aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation. We are working to gather more information.”
Journalist Kresna Astraatmadja spoke to DW from Jakarta, explaining that the airline did not have poor reputation before the apparent crash. But he also pointed out that the aircraft in question was old and had already made the same trip four times since the early morning.
Commenting on the photos of debris found by local fisherman, he said that “it was confirmed that it was the debris from the aircraft but tomorrow the experts will see the debris and then will confirm one more time.”