Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182: Rescue operation launched after Indonesian passenger jet ‘lost contact’

A search and rescue operation has been launched after a passenger plane with more than 50 people on board lost contact, shortly after taking off from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Saturday, a Transport Ministry spokesperson said.

Flight SJ182 went missing over the Java Sea, minutes after it took off for Pontianak, the capital of the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, said Adita Irawati.

Tracking service Flightradar24 said on its Twitter feed that the plane “lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta.”

The aircraft is a 27-year-old Boeing 737-500, according to registration details included in the tracking data, Flightradar24 added.

More than 50 passengers were on board, according to the flight’s manifest.

“There has been a lost contact with the Sriwijaya aircraft on the route from Jakarta to Pontianak with the SJY 182 call sign,” said Irawati, who added that the plane was last heard from at 2.40 p.m. local time (2:40 a.m. ET).

Yusuf Latief, a spokesperson for Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency Basarnas, told NBC News that ships had been dispatched to the Thousand Islands, a chain north of the Jakarta coast, where the plane is thought to have lost contact.

Sriwijaya Air said in a statement that it was “still in contact with various related parties to get more detailed information,” and that “management is still communicating and investigating this matter.”

It is the second crash off the coast of Indonesia in just over two years. A Boeing 737 Max operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed off Jakarta October 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew.

David Sidman, director of communications at Boeing said in a statement that the company was “aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation.

“We are working to gather more information,” he said.

Boeing agreed on Thursday to pay $2.5 billion to settle a U.S. Justice Department investigation and admit that employees misled regulators about the safety of its 737 Max aircraft, which suffered two deadly crashes shortly after entering airline service.

This is a breaking news story please check back for updates.

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