A Sriwijaya Air plane crashed into the sea Saturday minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on a domestic flight with 62 people on board, and their fate was not known. The Boeing 737-500, en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan, dis-appeared from radar screens after taking of just after 2.30 p.m. (0730 GMT) – 30 minutes after the sched-uled 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. The detik.com website quoted him as saying the plane crashed near Laid 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”.
Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry said that the last contact with the plane, Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, was made at 2:40 p.m. local time. The Boeing 737524 was bound for the city of Pontianak on the island of Bornehe plane had 62 people aboard, according to the Transportation Ministry. Four min-utes after taking off amid a heavy monsoon season rain, following a delay because of bad weather, the 26-year-old plane lost more than 10,000 feet in altitude in less than 60 seconds, according to Flightradar24, the flight-tracking service.
The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency said that it had found pieces of debris in waters just northwest of Jakarta that it believed may be from the plane’s wreckage, but that darkness and inclement weather had impeded its search. The area where the debris was found is known as the Thousand Islands.
“Tomorrow we are going to survey the location,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee, said on Saturday evening, dim-ming hopes that survivors would be found.
The aviation sector in Indonesia, a developing country of thousands of inhabited islands, has been plagued by crashes and safety lapses for years. As Indonesian airlines, particularly low-cost carriers, grew rapidly to cover a vast archipel-ago, the domestic aviation indus-try has been undermined by shoddy aircraft maintenance. and cava-lier adherence to safety standards.