Indonesian plane feared crashed after losing contact

KUALA LUMPUR — A passenger plane carrying more than 50 people went missing shortly after take-off from the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The Indonesian budget airline jet is feared to have crashed into the sea.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 lost contact with air traffic control on Saturday, with flight tracking data showing the plane plunged into a steep dive several minutes after taking off.

The plane took off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport and was on its way to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province, ground staff at the airport said.

It was reported that 62 passengers and crew were listed on an unconfirmed manifest, including seven children and three infants, local media reported.

The usual flight time is about 90 minutes over the Java Sea between Indonesia’s main Java island and Kalimantan, the country’s section of Borneo island.

Data from FlightRadar24 said the plane reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) before dropping to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

“Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,” the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.

Broadcaster Kompas TV quoted local fishermen as saying they had found debris near islands just off the coast of the capital Jakarta, but it could not be immediately confirmed as having belonged to the missing jet.

Indonesia’s Transport Ministry said it was probing the incident.

“A Sriwijaya (Air) plane from Jakarta to Pontianak (on Borneo island) with call sign SJY182 has lost contact,” said ministry spokesman Adita Irawati.

The budget airline, which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, said only that it was investigating the loss of contact.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency and the National Transportation Safety Commission were also investigating, Irawati said.

Authorities have launched a search and rescue operation to confirm the whereabouts of the missing aircraft, amidst fears the plane may have crashed in the ocean. — Agencies

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