Flightradar24, a tracking service, said on its Twitter feed that Flight SJ182 “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta”.
Indonesia’s transport minister said the flight with 62 passengers and crew is suspected to have crashed into the sea. Hinting that Indonesian authorities have found the suspected debris of the aircraft, Navy official Abdul Rasyid told reporters, “The coordinates have been found and have been given to all Navy vessels in the area.”
“The missing plane is currently under investigation and under coordination with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee,” Indonesian Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said in a statement.
It is thought to have dropped more than 3,000m (10,000ft) in less than a minute, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.com.
The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 lost contact with air traffic control about four minutes after take-off just after 2.30pm (0730 GMT) on its way to Borneo island. Flightradar24, a tracking service, said on its Twitter feed that Flight SJ182 “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta”. “Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,” the tracking agency tweeted.
“The total number of passengers was 50 along with 12 crew,” Indonesian transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters, adding that the figure included seven children and three infants. Another official had said earlier there were 56 passengers and six crew.
A commander of one of the search-and-rescue ships who goes by a single name, Eko, said that fishermen found cables and pieces of metal in the water.
“The fishermen told us that they found them shortly after they heard an explosion like the sound of thunder,” Eko was quoted by TVOne as saying, adding that aviation fuel was found in the location where the fishermen found the debris.
Aji said no radio beacon signal had been detected from the 26-year-old plane. He said his agency was investigating why the plane’s emergency locator transmitter, or ELT, was not transmitting a signal that could confirm whether it had crashed.
“The satellite system owned by neighboring Australia also did not pick up on the ELT signal from the missing plane,” Aji said.
Solihin, 22, a fisherman from Lancang Island, said he and two other fishermen heard an explosion around 30 meter from them.
“We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water after the explosion. It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it is difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat,” he said.