In what is believed to be the worst plane crash in three years, a Boeing 737 Max jet operated by Indonesia’s troubled Lion Air carrier plunged into the Java Sea with 189 people on board just minutes after takeoff on Monday. The domestic flight was flying from the city of Jakarta and flying to the mining town of Pangkal Pinang off the island of Sumatra when air traffic controllers lost contact shortly after 6:30 am local time, when the plane was flying at a relatively low altitude of 2,500 meters. Indonesian search and rescue found debris, possessions belonging to the 189 passengers and crew as well as body parts strewn about the crash site, but that all those aboard are "likely" dead.
The pilot reportedly asked to return to the airport, and was cleared, minutes after contact was lost.
Rescuer workers have started the process of pulling bodies from the water.
Notably, the crash is the first involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, the more fuel-efficient iteration of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet. Lion Air's Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the first delivery of the jets last year following a $21 billion deal signed in 2011. The airline was also the first to put the model into service, per Reuters.
In a Monday statement, Boeing said it "stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation." A haunting video taken aboard one of the rescue vessels showing an oil slick peppered with debris has surfaced on social media.
Serpihan pesawat Lion Air JT 610 yang jatuh di perairan Karawang. Beberapa kapal tug boad membantu menangani evakuasi. Video diambil petugas tug boad yang ada di perairan Karawang. pic.twitter.com/4GhKcRYkpG— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) October 29, 2018
One twitter user tweeted a photo of the 31-year-old pilot who presumably died during the crash.
Established in 1999, Lion Air Group operates domestic flights as well as a number of international routes connecting Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East. Its founder, Rusdi Kirana, is the incumbent Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia. However, the airline is no stranger to safety scandals, and was briefly barred from flying in Europe after several of its pilots were found to possess methamphetamine back in 2013. If all aboard have indeed died, the crash would be the country’s second-deadliest air disaster since 1997. Though Indonesia is one of the world's fastest growing air markets.
Here are the key takeaways from the traffic incident (courtesy of Bloomberg):
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