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Indonesia's Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 feared to have crashed

Plane went missing over waters north of Jakarta as navy determines location

A Sriwijaya Air plane loads passengers in Bali in 2017.   © Reuters

JAKARTA -- An Indonesian domestic airliner is feared to have crashed in the waters north of Jakarta on Saturday, with a navy official confirming that the location of the missing plane has been determined.

Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182, scheduled to fly from Jakarta to Pontianak, capital of West Kalimantan, lost contact with air traffic control soon after takeoff.

"The coordinates have been found and have been given to all navy vessels in the area," said navy official Abdul Rasyid as reported by Reuters.

A spokesperson for Indonesia's Ministry of Transportation said the plane lost contact at 2:40 p.m. local time and an investigation was underway between the National Transportation Safety Committee and National Search and Rescue Agency.

The search and rescue agency has also released photos of what is believed to be wreckage from the flight.

Members of National Search and Rescue Agency prepare an area where debris found in the waters at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, early Sunday, Jan. 10.   © AP

Sriwijaya said 62 people were on board. Earlier unconfirmed reports from Indonesia's air traffic control agency AirNav said there were 56 aboard the plane.

Local media have reported that Sriwijaya was operating Boeing's 737-500 aircraft.

If the crash is confirmed, this will be the second major air disaster in just over two years for Indonesia. In October 2018, a Lion Air flight crashed with 189 people on board, in what would lead to Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft being grounded across the world. Lion is the country's largest private airline.

A flight-tracking service Flightradar24 said on Twitter that the flight "lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta."

Relatives of passengers on the Sriwijaya Air flight arrive at a crisis center set up at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia.   © AP

Indonesian airlines' safety record had improved in recent years. They were banned for years from flying to the U.S. and Europe due to unaddressed safety concerns.

But in 2016, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced that Indonesia had been granted a Category 1 rating after meeting safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Indonesian airlines were also removed from the EU's blacklist in 2018.

Sriwijaya said in a statement it is "in contact with various related parties to get more detailed information" regarding the flight.

Sriwijaya Group is Indonesia's third-largest domestic carrier after Lion Air and state-owned Garuda Indonesia, and operates Sriwijaya Air as well as Nam Air.

In 2018, Garuda's low-budget carrier Citilink Indonesia took over operations of both Sriwijaya and Nam. But after internal struggles, both parties terminated their partnership in 2019.

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