Indonesian government officials admitted Monday evening that there was no hope of survivors from the crash of Lion Air Flight JT610, which appears to be shaping up to be Asean’s second-worst aviation disaster in history.
All 189 passengers and crew aboard Flight JT610, which plummeted into the sea off Indonesia this morning, are feared dead.
Six bodies have been recovered, according to the National Search and Rescue Agency, as well as personal items including life jackets, mobile phones, luggage, and personal photos. An estimated 300 emergency workers are scouring the area, but have yet to locate the plane’s fuselage.
It is still unclear what triggered the catastrophic disaster, although it was reported that there were heavy monsoon storms through the night. According to the authorities, the pilot before take-off had asked to change course to evade bad weather, but no alarm signal was sent.
An official of Indonesia’s safety transport committee, Soerjanto Tjahjono, said firm answers about the cause of the crash must wait until the recovery of the plane’s “black boxes”, terminology for the aircraft’s flight data recorder (FDC) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
“The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review, too. But the most important is the black box”, he said.
Preliminary flight-tracking data from Flightradar24 showed that the aircraft climbed to about 5,000 feet (about 1,524 metres) before losing altitude and finally falling towards the sea.
Its last recorded position was about 15 kilometres (9 miles) north of the Indonesian coast, according to a Google Maps reference reported by Flightradar24. The plane reportedly crashed in waters 30 to 35 metres (98-115ft) deep.
One of Indonesia’s fast-growing low-cost airlines, Lion Air has a mixed safety record. It last reported a fatal accident in 2004 when 25 people were killed onboard a DC-9 aircraft at Solo City in central Java.
Flight JT610 was believed to be the first ever crash involving the new Boeing 737 MAX 8.
Recent Asean civilian aviation disasters
• May 2016, two Lion Air planes collided at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport
• August 16, 2015, in the eastern Indonesian province of Papua, a Trigana Air Service Flight 267 rammed into Tangok Mountain a few miles from Oksibil Airport, killing all 54 people on board.
• December 28, 2014, AirAsia Flight 8501 from Surabaya to Singapore crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 155 passengers and seven crew members.
July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
• May 17, 2014, an Antonov An-74 airplane of the Lao People’s Liberation Army Air Force crashed in northern province of Xiangkhouang, killing 16 people.
March 8, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing Capital. All 227 passengers and 12 crew aboard are presumed dead.
• February 1, 2014, Lion Air Flight 361, a Boeing 737-900ER, was damaged beyond repair after it landed hard and bounced four times on the runway at Surabaya Airport in Indonesia. There were no casualties, although two passengers were seriously injured.
• April 13, 2013, a Lion Air plane carrying more than 108 passengers and crew skidded off a runway on the Indonesian resort island of Bali and crashed into the sea. The plane’s fuselage broke in two and 22 people were reportedly injured.
Last year, the Indonesian air traffic controllers association reported that the rate of take-offs and landings in Jakarta allowed by the state-run air navigation company was alarming and said it was increasing the chance of accidents.
Lion Air has in the past faced years-long bans from entering European Union and US airspace over its safety records.
Australian government officials and contractors were instructed on Monday not to fly on Lion Air pending the results of an air crash investigation.
- Latest: Rescuers race to wreckage of Lion Air Flight JT610 (video) (AEC News Today)
- Indonesia: ‘No survivors’ after Lion Air flight crashes into sea (Al Jazeera)
- 189 Feared Dead in Indonesia Plane Crash, Adding to Country’s Troubling Record (The New York Times)
Feature video Associated Press
Feature photo Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
Lion Air Flight JT610 crash photo slide gallery
Photo gallery Sutopo Purwo Nugroho
Between November 2010 and February 2012 she was a staff writer at Daylight Online, Nigeria writing on health, fashion, and relationships. Since 2010 she has worked as a freelance screen writer for ‘Nollywood’, Nigeria.