SJ-182 likely smashed on impact with sea: KNKT

A search and rescue unit at the suspected crash site of SJ-182. Photo: BASARNAS (@SAR_NASIONAL)
A search and rescue unit at the suspected crash site of SJ-182. Photo: BASARNAS (@SAR_NASIONAL)

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 was intact before it crashed into the sea, preliminary findings from an official investigation have suggested, possibly ruling out the theory that the plane exploded in mid-air.

On Jan. 9, residents from the Thousand Islands just north off the coast of Jakarta said they heard a loud “boom” sound at the time of the incident, opening up the possibility that SJ-182 may have exploded minutes after take off from Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

This morning, Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) all but ruled out the theory, saying it’s more likely that the plane plunged into the sea as data collected about the flight suggest the plane’s engines were still switched on until it was about 250 feet above the water.

“The data we have collected suggest so. The plane wreckage was concentrated on one spot with a width of 100 meters and a length of 300 meters. It can be said that the plane crashed into the water while it was still intact,” KNKT chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said.

“Had [the plane] exploded mid-air, the debris would have spread over an area of around 2 kilometers.”

Indonesian authorities have yet to announce a definitive cause of the crash. On the second day of search efforts yesterday, authorities found small pieces of plane wreckage along with suspected body parts of passengers and some of their personal belongings. As of this article’s publication, no victims have been identified.

Rescuers also say they have located the ping from the plane’s black box coming from the sea floor, along with a large piece of plane wreckage, and are working to recover both for crucial clues about the crash.

SJ-182, a Boeing 733-500 series, vanished from radar four minutes after its 2:36pm departure from Soekarno-Hatta Airport on Saturday. The plane was bound for the city of Pontianak in West Kalimantan.

The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) soon confirmed the discovery of plane debris from the suspected crash site, between the islands Laki and Lancang just north off the coast of Tangerang city.

The Transportation Ministry said that there were 62 people on board, including six crew members.

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