Human remains and debris from the crashed Indonesian Boeing 737 jet carrying 62 people have been found, authorities said on Sunday.
Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 went down shortly after takeoff at 2:36 p.m. Saturday from the capital Jakarta on Saturday. On Sunday, Indonesian Navy divers found wreckage 75 feet underwater, including life vests and parts of the aircraft that bears its registration number, military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said in a televised briefing.
“We believe that it is the location of the crash,” Tjahjanto said.
The search team had located both flight recorders from emergency signals and efforts were underway to retrieve them.
Sriwijaya Air was flying a 737-500 model that’s much older than the troubled 737 Max 8 aircraft.
In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Java Sea in Indonesia after a crash caused by the automated flight system aboard the Boeing 737 Max 8. The Lion Air Flight and the crash of another Max 8 in Ethiopia five months later forced Boeing to ground the fleet. Nearly 350 died in the two crashes.
“This is not even the model before the Max, it has been in service for 30 years so it’s unlikely to be a design fault,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group Corp. “Thousands of these planes have been built and production ended over 20 years ago, so something would have been discovered by now.”
The plane, which first went into service in May 1994, was delayed by heavy rain in Jakarta for the 90-minute flight to Pontianak on the island of Borneo.
It had reached 1,700 feet a minute later after takeoff and was cleared by Jakarta air traffic controllers to ascend to 29,000 feet, according to Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi. Four minutes after takeoff, the plane was not on its assigned track. It radioed the crew and the aircraft disappeared from radar, he said.
“While we have to wait for the final report of the investigation to know the true cause of the incident, but the preliminary data appears pointing to possible disorientation in the cockpit, to which the bad weather is a factor here,” aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman told Bloomberg.
On the plane were 50 passengers, including seven children and three infants, two pilots, four cabin crew and six off-duty crew, the airline posted on Twitter. No foreign nationals were on board.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement posted on Twitter. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.
Three fishermen from Lancang Island said they heard an explosion and experienced a sudden large wave around the time the plane went missing.
“I heard very loud explosion. I thought it was a bomb or a big thunder. We then saw the big wave, about 2 meters high, hitting our boat,” Hendrik Mulyadi said.
The search is being conducted by the Indonesian Navy, police, Coast Guard and Transportation Ministry with 28 ships, five helicopters and two airplanes, according to Rear Adm. Abdul Rasyid.
Sriwijaya Air is a low-cost airline that is Indonesia’s third largest carrier. It transports more than 950,000 passengers per month from its Jakarta hub to 53 destinations within Indonesia and three regional countries, according to the company’s website. CURRENTPH