Indonesian Flight crashes into sea

HONG KONG : A plane carrying 189 people from Jakarta to a smaller Indonesian city crashed into the Java Sea on Monday after the pilot asked to turn around, officials said, prompting a desperate search for survivors and questions about why the aircraft went down despite clear skies.

Lion Air Flight 610 had been flying north from the capital, Jakarta, to the city of Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka when it went missing. The national search and rescue agency said a tugboat crew saw the plane crash in Karawang Bay northeast of Jakarta, the capital.

The crash is another setback for Indonesia’s fast-growing aviation sector, which has been troubled for years by safety problems but had recently shown signs of progress.

Officials said a search and rescue effort was underway for the brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8, which departed Jakarta at 6:21 a.m. on Monday.

It is learnt from sources that the plane was commanded by Indian pilot Bhavye Suneja.

Suneja belongs to New Delhi and is associated with the airline since March 2011. The 31-year-old captain had received his pilot licence from Bel Air International in 2009 and  had more than 6,000 flying hours, He had with him  co-pilot Harvino, an Indonesian, with more than 5,000 hours of flying time. Suneja lived in Jakarta with his wife.

The cause of the crash is yet to be ascertained. Indonesia’s disaster agency posted photos online of 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.

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