All 189 passenger and crew aboard a crashed Indonesian jet were “likely” killed in the accident, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Monday, as it announced it had found human remains.
“My prediction is that nobody survived because the victims that we found, their bodies were no longer intact and it’s been hours so it is likely 189 people have died,” agency operational director Bambang Suryo Aji told reporters.
The aircraft crashed into the sea as it tried to circle back to the capital, Jakarta, from where it had taken off minutes earlier, and there were likely no survivors, officials said.
Lion Air flight JT610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was en route to Pangkal Pinang, capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region. Rescue officials said they had recovered some human remains from the crash site, about 15 km (9 miles) off the coast.
Indonesia is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record is patchy. If all aboard have died, the crash will be the country’s second-worst air disaster since 1997, industry experts said.
The pilot had asked to return to base (RTB) after the plane took off from Jakarta. It lost contact with ground staff after 13 minutes.
“It’s correct that an RTB was requested and had been approved but we’re still trying to figure out the reason,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told reporters, referring to the pilot’s request.
“We hope the black box is not far from the main wreckage so it can be found soon,” he said, referring to the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.
Search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi told a news conference earlier that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.
The plane went down in waters about 30 metres to 35 metres (98 to 115 ft) deep. Items such as handphones and life vests were found, along with the body parts.