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Indonesia budget airline jet 'suspected' to have crashed: official

Indonesia has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 January, 2021

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More than 60 people were onboard the flight, which lost contact with authorities minutes after leaving Jakarta's airport.
An Indonesian budget airline jet is "suspected" to have crashed into the sea just minutes after the Boeing 737 lost contact with air traffic control on Saturday, the country's national search and rescue agency said.

"We deployed our team, boats and sea riders to the location suspected to be where it went down after losing contact," Bambang Suryo Aji, a senior official at the agency, told reporters. Aji's suspicions were later repeated by the country's transport minister.

The suspected crash site is near tourist islands just off the coast of Indonesia's sprawling capital Jakarta.

Local media reports said fishermen spotted metal objects believed to be parts of a plane on Saturday afternoon in the Thousand Islands.

Sriwijaya Air's jet lost contact about four minutes after leaving Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta international airport on its way to Borneo island.

The flight was carrying 56 passengers and six crew members.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.

In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. It was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda flight near Medan on Sumatra island.

That crash - and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia - saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people.

Sriwijaya Air is one of Indonesia's discount carriers, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

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