Indonesian plane crashes shortly after takeoff

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Jan. 9 (UPI) — An Indonesian plane carrying more than 60 people crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday shortly after takeoff from the capital, local officials said.

Sixty-two people were aboard the Boeing 737-524, according an official from Sriwijaya Air, an Indonesian airline based in Jakarta.

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The Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, headed to Pontianak on the island of Borneo, lost contact at 2:40 p.m., Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry said. Four minutes later amid heavy rain, the 26-year-old aircraft plummeted more than 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds, according to Flightradar24, the flight tracking service.

A Boeing spokesman told CNN they are “aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation.”

“We are working to gather more information.”

Among the 62 passengers, were 43 adults, seven children and 12 crew members. Indonesia’s search and rescue agency was conducting a search operation, Indonesia’s Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said at a news conference.

Debris from the plane was found in an area known as the Thousand Islands, the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency said.

The National Transportation Safety Committee has been charged with investigating the debris, an official said.

Sriwijaya Air, a low-cost airline, is Indonesia’s third-largest carrier, according to the company’s website, transporting more than 950,000 passengers per month from Jakarta to 53 destinations within Indonesia and three regional countries.

In 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Java Sea in Indonesia after a crash caused by the automated flight system aboard the Boeing 737 Max 8. The Lion Air Flight and the crash of another Max 8 in Ethiopia five months later forced Boeing to ground the fleet. Nearly 350 died in the two crashes.