Indonesia: Survivors Unlikely from Lion Air Plane Crash

    29 October, 2018

    An Indonesian passenger airplane crashed into the sea on Monday, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

    Indonesian officials say all 189 people on Lion Air Flight 610 were likely killed.

    The Associated Press reports that search and rescue teams have recovered human remains. One official said searchers are not expecting to find any survivors, based on the condition of the remains.

    Hundreds of people are involved in the operation. They have recovered pieces of the plane and personal belongings, including pictures and identification documents.

    Members of a rescue team prepare to search for survivors from Lion Air flight 610, which crashed into the sea, at the Jakarta seaport on October 29, 2018.
    Members of a rescue team prepare to search for survivors from Lion Air flight 610, which crashed into the sea, at the Jakarta seaport on October 29, 2018.

    The crash has shocked Indonesia. President Joko Widodo ordered the transport safety commission to investigate. He urged people to "keep on praying" as rescue crews continue their search for victims.

    The crash involved a new aircraft. One air traffic official said the flight was cleared to return to Jakarta after the pilot made a "return to base" request two to three minutes after leaving the airport. The plane came down about 10 minutes later in waters northeast of Jakarta.

    Lion Air officials said the plane was on a 70-minute flight to Pangkal Pinang, off the coast of Sumatra. The plane was reported to be carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

    Friends and family members prayed and held hands as they waited at the airport in Pangkal Pinang. Others gathered at a crisis center set up in the Jakarta airport. Indonesian television broadcast pictures of objects and oil covering the water's surface in the area where the aircraft came down.

    The Indonesian meteorology agency noted that weather conditions for the flight were safe. It said that winds were weak and clouds normally connected with air turbulence were not present.

    The aviation website Flightradar24 reports that Lion Air took possession of the aircraft two months ago. It said the company put the plane, a Boeing 737 Max 8, to use within days.

    The head of Lion Air, Edward Sirait, said the plane had a technical problem on its most recent flight, from Bali to Jakarta. But he added the problem had been fully corrected. The company said the pilot of Flight 610 had more than 6,000 hours of flying experience, while the co-pilot had more than 5,000 hours.

    The plane's manufacturer, the United States-based Boeing Company, said it was deeply saddened and was prepared to provide technical assistance to the Indonesian investigation.

    The crash is the worst airline accident in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight crashed in December 2014. All 162 people on that plane were killed.

    In 2007, Indonesian airlines were barred from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. But several carriers were permitted to restart flights to European airports during the following 10 years. The ban was completely lifted in June of this year. The U.S. government ended its own ban on Indonesian carriers in 2016.

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    The Associated Press reported this story. George Grow adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

    We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.


    Words in This Story

    aviation – n. the operation of airplanes; the manufacture, development and design of airplanes

    commission – n. a government or government-led agency

    meteorologyn. the study of Earth's atmosphere, usually involving the weather and making weather predictions

    turbulence – n. unusual or strange movements in the atmosphere, as seen in "up" and "down" air currents