Lion Air Plane Crash, Indonesia: 189 people onboard feared to be dead

A Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on Monday. Officials said they weren’t expecting to find survivors. So far, they said 24 body bags have been received by the forensics unit at a hospital in Jakarta. A technical log also sheds lights on the doomed plane’s previous flight a day before.

Indonesia’s official search and rescue agency said it was unlikely that anyone had survived when the plane plunged into the Java Sea off Jakarta just 13 minutes after takeoff. Lion Air said the brand-new aircraft, on a 1-hour-and-10-minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

The crash is a significant blow to the country’s aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S.

Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field. Distraught friends and relatives prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Pangkal Pinang’s airport.

The National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said divers had not been able to access the main body of the aircraft underwater, despite fair conditions. He said search crews had been able to locate the plane’s “black box” data recorder, however, using the pings emitted by the device, and they were were trying to retrieve it.

The National Search and Rescue Agency’s deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said some 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen were involved in the search and that so far it had recovered no bodies — only ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.

“We are waiting for the miracle from God,” said Wiryanto, when asked if there’s any hope of survivors.

Shortly after, however, search and rescue officials confirmed that some human remains had been recovered from the water. Identifying bodies will take about four to five days.