Indonesian authorities continued on Sunday to search for wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 passenger plane carrying 62 people that crashed sharply and then crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.
About 10 naval vessels carrying divers have been deployed in an area of the Thousand Islands in the waters just northwest of the capital, where officials said they believed Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 had crashed.
Joko Widodo, the president of Indonesia, confirmed the crash on Sunday, expressing his condolences for what he called the “tragedy” that befell the flight. The Indonesian leader said in a statement that on Saturday afternoon after receiving the message, the plane had lost radar contact and ordered the relevant authorities to conduct search and rescue operations.
The National Search and Rescue Office of Indonesia started searching for wreckage on Saturday evening. It said it had collected pieces it thought came out of the plane at the location, but struggled with poor visibility before resuming the search on Sunday.
According to flight tracking group Flightradar24, the plane lost more than 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in altitude in less than a minute, about four minutes after it took off in Jakarta on Saturday.
Flight SJ-182 was bound for Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan Province in Jakarta on Borneo Island, when it departed at 2:36 PM and disappeared from the radar at around 2:40 PM local time.
The plane, which was 26 years old, did not send a distress signal, Air Marshal Bagus Puruhito, the head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue service, told local media.
Fishermen in the area at the time of the crash told the Associated Press that they heard an explosion around 2:30 p.m.
Police set up a victim identification command post at a police hospital in East Jakarta to identify victims of the crash, Indonesian Antara news agency reported Sunday.
The Boeing plane was a much older model than the 737 MAX that was involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in 2018 that killed 189 people and in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in 2019 that killed 157 people.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta about Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement on Saturday. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers and their families. We are in contact with our airline customer and are ready to support them in this difficult time. “