Human remains and debris from the crashed Indonesian Boeing 737 jet with 62 people aboard have been found, authorities said Sunday.
Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 went down shortly after taking off at 2:36 a.m. Saturday from the capital, Jakarta. On Sunday, Indonesian Navy divers found wreckage 75 feet underwater, including life jackets and parts of the plane that bears its registration number, military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said in a televised briefing.
“We believe this is the site of the crash,” Tjahjanto said.
The search team had located both flight recorders from distress signals and data had been recovered.
Sriwijaya Air was flying a 737-500 model much older than the troubled 737 Max 8.
In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia after the automated flight system aboard the Boeing 737 Max 8 caused a crash. The Lion Air flight and the crash of another Max 8 in Ethiopia five months later forced Boeing to ground its fleet. Nearly 350 people died in the two crashes.
“This isn’t even the predecessor model of the Max, it’s been in service for 30 years, so it’s unlikely to be a design flaw,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group Corp. “There were thousands of these planes built and production ended more than 20 years ago, so something would have been discovered by now.”
The plane, which entered 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 an altitude of 1,700 feet a minute after takeoff and was cleared by Jakarta air traffic controllers to climb to 29,000 feet, according to Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi. Four minutes after takeoff, the aircraft was not on its assigned path. He radioed the crew and the plane disappeared from radar, he said.
“While we will have to wait for the final report of the investigation to know the true cause of the incident, but the preliminary data seems to point to a possible disorientation in the cockpit, to which the bad weather here is a factor,” aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman told Bloomberg.
On board the plane were 50 passengers, including seven children and three infants, two pilots, four flight attendants and six off-duty employees, the airline said on Twitter. No foreign nationals were on board.
“We are aware of the 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 customer, the airline, and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.
Three fishermen from Lancang Island told CNN they heard an explosion and experienced a sudden large wave around the time the plane disappeared.
“I heard a very loud explosion. I thought it was a bomb or big thunder. Then we saw the big wave, about 2 meters high, hitting our boat,” Hendrik Mulyadi told CNN.
The search is being conducted by the Indonesian Navy, police, Coast Guard and Ministry of Transport with 28 vessels, five helicopters and two aircraft, Rear Adm. Abdul Rasyid said.
Sriwijaya Air is a low-cost airline, the third largest airline in Indonesia. It carries more than 950,000 passengers per month from its Jakarta hub to 53 destinations in Indonesia and three regional countries, according to the company’s website.