By Salim Yunusa
A Sriwijaya Air plane crashed into the sea on Saturday minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on a domestic flight with 62 people on board, their fate currently unknown.
The plane, a Boeing 737-500, en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan, disappeared from radar screens after taking off 30 minutes after the scheduled time because of heavy rain.
Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya told a news conference that 62 people had been aboard Flight SJ 182, including 12 crew. He was quoted saying the plane crashed near Laki Island, some 20 km (12 miles) from the airport.
Rescue agency Basarnas said in a statement it would send a team to the Thousand Islands area to help in the search for victims “after the crash of Sriwijaya Air SJ 182”.
All those on board were Indonesian, Indonesia’s transport safety committee said.
Indonesia’s Navy had pinpointed the site of the missing aircraft and ships had been sent there, a Navy official said. Authorities did not say whether they believed there were survivors.
Indonesian airline Sriwijaya Air’s chief executive, Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, told a news conference that the plane had been in good condition before the flight.