Indonesia Lion Air plane crash UPDATES: Pope Francis offers condolences to victims

The aircraft, which went missing shortly after take-off, was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, along with two pilots and six flight attendants.

Published: 29th October 2018 08:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th October 2018 07:19 PM   |  A+A-

Lion Air passenger plane crash-Indonesia-Jakarta

Members of a rescue team prepare to search for survivors from the Lion Air plane crash near Jakarta on 29 October 2018. (Photo | AFP)

By Online Desk

JAKARTA: The Indonesian Lion Air passenger jet feared to have crashed on Monday was carrying 189 passengers and crew when it went missing shortly after take-off, a transport ministry official said.

The aircraft was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, with two pilots and six flight attendants. The plane had requested to return to base before finally disappearing from the radar, said a statement.

The aircraft, bound for Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka off the coast of Sumatra, lost contact with air traffic control around 6.30 am (2330 GMT), about 13 minutes after it took off. The jet was a 2-month old Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to air tracking service Flightradar 24.

Lion Air, a low-cost airline, has been involved in a number of mishaps. Last year one of its Boeing jets collided with a Wings Air plane as it landed at Kualanamu airport on the island of Sumatra, although no one was injured.

HERE ARE UPDATES:

7:45 pm: Pope Francis has conveyed his condolences to those affected by the crash of a jetliner minutes after taking off from Indonesia's capital, likely killing all 189 people on board.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said in a telegram to the Vatican's representative in Indonesia that the pope "offers the assurance of his prayers for all who have died and for those who mourn their loss" following Monday's crash.

7:30 pm: Friends and relatives have offered their condolences to the parents of an Indian pilot who was flying a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia.

After receiving friends and relatives who rushed to their New Delhi home upon hearing news of the crash, the parents of pilot Bhavye Suneja left for New Delhi's airport to board a flight for the Indonesian capital.

"Please pray for us," Suneja's sobbing mother said as she got into a car.

A family friend, Anil Gupta, said Suneja's father was stunned and couldn't talk, and his sister and mother had not come out of their rooms.

Relatives of passengers arrive at Lion Air's crisis centre at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia. (Photo | AP)

7 pm: The European Commission says it has no immediate plans to ban Indonesian airline Lion Air again after one of its planes crashed into the sea off Jakarta, likely killing all 189 people on board.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns. The ban was lifted for Lion Air in June 2016 and the countrywide ban was lifted completely in June this year.

Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio said Monday that there "have been no indications that the safety levels at Lion Air or the safety oversight in Indonesia" were deteriorating.

6:10 pm: The official China News Service says a Chinese company, China Minsheng Investment Group Leasing Holdings Ltd., owned a Lion Air plane that crashed Monday with 189 aboard and leased it to the airline.

CNS quoted CMIG Leasing as saying it was extremely sad about the accident and was in close contact with Lion Air, Boeing and other organizations.

The company said it is a common practice for airlines to obtain large aircraft through leasing arrangements with third companies.

6 pm: Australia's foreign affairs ministry says Australian government officials and contractors "have been instructed not to fly on Lion Air or their subsidiary airlines" following the crash of a Lion Air jet carrying 189 people.

The statement posted on the ministry's website said the decision will be reviewed when the findings of the crash investigation are clear.

It said its overall level of travel advice for Indonesia was unchanged from its recommendation to exercise a high degree of caution.

5:10 pm: A search and rescue agency official says he's not expecting any survivors from the Lion Air plane that crashed into seas off Jakarta with 189 people aboard.

The operations director at the agency, Bambang Suryo Aji, says the search effort is focusing on finding bodies. He said six body bags have been used so far for human remains recovered.

Aji said the location of the plane hull hasn't been identified yet. The search is currently planned to last seven days and could be extended.

4:00 pm: Indonesian aviation and transport safety officials say a Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea with 189 people on board had been cleared by air traffic controllers to return to Jakarta's airport following a request from its pilot about two to three minutes after takeoff.

3:30 pm: An Indian Embassy official in Jakarta says one of the pilots of a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia was an Indian citizen. The Indian Embassy in Jakarta condoles the loss of lives in the plane crash via Twitter.

2:45 pm: Indonesian President Joko Widodo says he has ordered the National Commission for Transportation Safety to investigate crash of a Lion Air plane.

In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) a rescuer inspects debris believed to be from Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Photo | AP)

1:50 pm: Lion Air's president says the plane that crashed into the sea Monday had a technical problem on its last flight that was resolved.

1:45 pm: Boeing says it is "deeply saddened" by the crash of a Lion Air off the Indonesian coast and offered to help with the investigation.

1:30 pm: Rescuers have released footage of plane debris and personal items floating in the water at the crash site. They have found handbags, clothing, cellphones, ID cards and drivers licenses.

1:00 pm: Lion Air has released the names of the flight’s captain, co-pilot and full crew. Lion Air has also turned their website and social media accounts to black-and-white.

12:50 pm: Delhi man Bhavye Suneja was the captain of the Indonesian Lion Air plane which crashed into the Java Sea Monday morning with 189 passengers on board, according to media reports.  [READ FULL REPORT HERE]

Bhavye Suneja (Photo | Facebook)

12:30 pm: Indonesia’s Search And Rescue Agency has released an official statement which says the reason for the crash is still unclear.

“The Emergency Local Transmitter beacon on the plane did not emit a distress signal. Thus, the crash of the plane was not monitored by the Medium Earth Orbital Local User Terminal at the Basarnas [Search and Rescue] head office.

11:45 am: Families are turning up at Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency headquarters in Jakarta for word of their loved ones.

A relative of passengers prays as she and others wait for news on a Lion Air plane that crashed off Java Island at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia Monday. (Photo | AP)

11:30 am: Indonesia's Finance Minister Sri Mulyani met with the agency chief, seeking information about 20 finance ministry staff who were on the flight.

Aviation tracking website Flightradar24 says the Lion Air plane that crashed after takeoff from Jakarta was a brand-new aircraft that has only been in use for a couple of months.

11:00 am: Vessels searching in the water for the Flight 610 wreckage have found various items of debris.

10:30 am: Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years. [READ FULL REPORT HERE]

10:00 am: Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho posted photos on Twitter of debris including a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.

9:30 am:  181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and seven crew members were on board, say officials.

9:00 am: A report to the Jakarta Search and Rescue Office cites the crew oftugboatoat reporting a Lion Air flight falling from the sky. It said several vessels have headed to the location.

File photo of a Lion Air plane. (Photo | AFP)

8:00 am: Indonesia's Lion Air says it has lost contact with a passenger jet flying from Jakarta to an island off Sumatra. A search and rescue effort has been launched for the Boeing 737-800 plane which departed Jakarta about 6.20 a.m. on Monday.

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