Lion Air plane crash: Six bodies found in sea off Jakarta, Indonesia

BY: CNN.com
Search and rescue teams conduct dives at the crash site.
Search and rescue teams conduct dives at the crash site.

Rescue workers have retrieved six bodies from the sea where an Indonesian passenger plane crashed close to the capital Jakarta on Monday 13 minutes after takeoff.

The Lion Air flight JT 610 had been carrying 189 people, including three children, when it disappeared from radar during a short flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka, according to Basarnas, Indonesia's national search and rescue agency.

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The plane, a new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was carrying 181 passengers, as well as six cabin crew members and two pilots.

The recovered bodies have been taken to a hospital in east Jakarta, said Bambang Suryo Aji, director of operations for Basarnas.

Aji told a news conference that rescue workers had found debris appearing to be the plane's tail.


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A relative of passengers prays as she and others wait for news on the Lion Air plane.

The main wreckage had still not been located.

Search and rescue teams were working against high waves and strong currents, in an area spanning 150 nautical miles, added Aji. Underwater robots were being used in the search effort.

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Plane had reported problems the night before

The flight made a request to air traffic control to return to the airport about 12 miles out from takeoff, but did not indicate there was any emergency, Yohanes Sirait, spokesman for AirNav Indonesia, the agency that oversees air traffic navigation, told CNN.

The spokesman added that the aircraft would have been given priority landing upon such a request, but that air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane shortly after.

The plane had not turned back, according to the radar.

The plane had reported problems the night before on a flight from Denpasar to Jakarta, Lion Air's CEO Edward Sirait told local media TV1 in an interview.

Sirait said engineers had checked and repaired the problem and reported that the plane was ready to fly.

The captain of the plane, Bhavye Suneja, an Indian national, had more than 6,000 flight hours, and his copilot, named Harvino, had logged more than 5,000, according to a statement posted by Lion Air.

Speaking to reporters at the carrier's headquarters in Jakarta, Sirait said the plane was "airworthy" and that the pilot had carried out all preflight inspections according to procedure. He added that the pilots had passed mandatory drug screening.

Lion Air captain Bhavye Suneja.

20 ministry officials on board

The plane took off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, greater Jakarta, at 6:21 a.m., and had been due to land at around 7:30 a.m. in Pangkal Pinan, the largest city on Bangka.

Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said there were 20 ministry officials on board.

They were returning to their posts in Pangkal Pinang after spending the weekend with their families in Jakarta for a public holiday.

Lion Air has flown 90 family members of passengers on board flight JT-160 from Pangkal Pinang to Jakarta, the airline said in a statement. Another 76 family members were also being flown out.