Passengers onboard included three babies and seven children

By Rachel DeSantis
January 11, 2021 11:14 AM
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Navy divers search the water following the crash in Indonesia
| Credit: Achmad Ibrahim/AP/Shutterstock

An airplane carrying 62 people crashed off the coast of Indonesia shortly after takeoff on Saturday, leaving all on board — including a family of five and a pregnant mom — presumed dead.

Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 plummeted into the Java Sea just before 3 p.m. after leaving from Jakarta amid heavy rain on what should have been a 90-minute flight, the Associated Press reported. It disappeared from radar just four minutes into its journey to Pontianak on Indonesia's Borneo island.

Black boxes belonging to the Boeing 737-500 were discovered on Sunday using a sonar system that picked up on the devices' emergency signals. Though the cause of the crash remains unclear, the boxes contain the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, which should help shed light on the flight's final moments, according to the AP.

Fifty passengers, including three babies and seven children, were reportedly on board the plane, as were six working crew members and six crew members for another flight.

Among those were Ratih Windania, a pregnant mom traveling with her 2-year-old daughter, 8-year-old nephew, and aunt and uncle, according to CNN.

The group was supposed to fly out of Jakarta at an earlier date, but had their flights delayed as they awaited COVID test results.

Windania reportedly shared a selfie to Instagram just before takeoff that showed her smiling alongside the two children from her seat on the plane.

Also aboard the flight was a family of five from Bangka Island traveling with their 7-month-old son, as well as a father returning from a business trip, CNN reported.

Married couple Agus Minarni and Muhammad Nur Kholifatul Amin were also traveling on the plane as they headed to Amin's father's funeral.

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Family members told CNN they were supposed to fly home earlier in the week on another airline, but that they had to take a coronavirus test before boarding, which delayed them a few days.

Fisherman who were in the area at the time of the crash said they initially assumed that the loud explosion they heard Saturday afternoon was a bomb or a tsunami.

"It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad, so it was difficult to see around clearly," a fisherman named Solihin told the AP. "But we saw the splash and a big wave after the loud sound. We were very shocked and saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat."

Soerjanto Tjahjono, the National Transportation Safety Committee chairman, told the outlet authorities believe the jet was intact when it plunged down, and only broke apart once it hit the water, all but ruling out a midair explosion.

Search and rescue teams have reportedly since found parts of the plane, including broken pieces of fuselage as deep as 75 feet into the water, as well as body parts and pieces of children's clothing.

Singapore's Transport Safety Investigation Bureau will help in the investigation, as will the United States' National Transportation Safety Board, according to the AP. A preliminary investigation report is expected within a month.

Sriwijaya Air President Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, however, said at a news conference that the plane was in good condition, according to Reuters.

"Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families," Boeing said in a statement. "We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time."

The tragic accident comes just over two years after a Lion Air plane crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.

According to the AP, Indonesian carriers were banned from operating in the United States in 2007, though the decision was reversed by the U.S. in 2016 due to improvements in compliance with international aviation standards.