Lion Air crash: Families 'still hoping for a miracle' as search intensifies

Lion Air crash: Families 'still hoping for a miracle' as search intensifies

Deryl Fida Febrianto
Deryl Fida Febrianto sent a selfie to his wife moments before Lion Air flight JT610 took off in Jakarta. (Photo: Reuters/Antara/Didik Suhartono)

JAKARTA: "I hope for a miracle and that he is still alive," said Lutfiani Eka Putri of her husband Deryl Fida Febrianto, who was on board Lion Air flight JT610 when it crashed on Monday (Oct 29). 

The couple got married just two weeks ago. 

His last message to her was from the plane at 6.12am, with a selfie by the window. At 6.15am, he stopped replying to her messages.

The Lion Air plane vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, plunging into the Java Sea moments after it had asked to return to the Indonesian capital.

Deryl, 22, was on the flight to Pangkal Pinang city, a jumping-off point for tourists to the nearby Belitung beach where he was due to begin work on a cruise ship. 

READ: All 189 on board Lion Air jet that crashed in Indonesia feared dead

"When I saw the news, I matched the flight number with the ticket photo Deryl had sent," Lutfiani, 23, said. "I immediately started crying."

They had grown up together, she told reporters, showing a picture of them smiling on their wedding day. 

Deryl's father, Didik Setiawan, said he first heard the news over the radio at about 9am. 

"I heard that they had lost contact with a plane and when they recited the flight number, I immediately recognised it," said the 44-year-old. Deryl was his eldest son. 

"But now he's disappeared with the plane," he added.

INDIAN PILOT WAS IN TALKS FOR JOB BACK HOME

The plane was piloted by Indian Captain Bhavye Suneja, a 31-year-old originally from New Delhi. Suneja died in the crash, the Indian Embassy in Indonesian has confirmed.

According to his Linkedin account, Suneja had worked for Lion Air since 2011, clocking up some 6,000 flight hours. On Facebook there are photos of him in his Lion Air uniform, smiling.

Minutes after take-off at 6.20am, Suneja reported technical difficulties and obtained permission from ground officials to turn back.

Times of India cited the vice-president of a leading airline in India as saying that Suneja was considering returning to India. The official said he had been "keen" to employ Suneja because of the pilot's "impeccable credentials ".

Indian television company NDTV said Suneja's family had been expecting him to return home for Diwali, as he did each year.

His mother is distraught and has asked for the public to "please pray for us", NDTV reported.

Neighbours described Suneja as a "sweet boy".

"Bhavye's father has been putting up a brave front and has not cried but we know what he is going through," one neighbour was quoted as saying.

His father, Gulshan Sukheja, is a chartered accountant and his mother, Sangeeta, worked with Air India, NDTV said.

Lion Air captain's father
Gulshan Suneja, father of Bhavye Suneja, a pilot of Lion Air flight JT610 which crashed into the sea, is consoled before he leaves for Jakarta, in New Delhi, India. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Bhavye married in 2016 and was based in Jakarta with his wife Garima Sethi, a former manager at the Indian Express.

Bhavye's younger sister, Ruhaani, also aspired to become a pilot, NDTV cited the neighbours as saying.

BABIES AMONG 189 PEOPLE ON PLANE

Among Suneja's passengers were two infants and a child. One of the infants was a girl named Kyara Aurine Daniendra, according to reports.

The girl was travelling with her parents, Rizal Gilang Perkasa Sanusi Putra and Wita Seriani, reported Indonesian news portal Detik. 

Rizal worked for Indonesian electricity power company PLN and was on a vacation with his family, the report quoted a PLN spokesman. 

READ: Remains of baby among bodies recovered from Lion Air crash site

Wita Seriani and family, victims of Lion Air JT610
Wita Seriani (left), daughter Kyara Aurine Daniendra, and husband Rizal Gilang Perkasa Sanusi Putra were reportedly passengers of the downed Lion Air flight JT610. (Photo: Facebook/Wita Seriani)

Flight stewardess Alfiani Hidayatul Solikah, 20, was also reportedly named in the flight manifest. A relative told Detik on Monday that her parents were shocked and asked not be disturbed. 

According to the report, family and friends gathered at Alfiani's house said they hoped for a miracle and that she was safe. 

Alfiani Lion Air
Alfiani Hidayatul Solikah, one of the six cabin crew said to have been operating Lion Air flight JT610 (Photos: Instagram)

Her Instagram page offered glimpses of her life as a flight stewardess. 

"(This crew is) calm, but quick. Thank you for always reminding me to do my prayers. See you on our next flight. Remember me," she wrote in a post.

At the Bhayangkara Hospital in Pangkal Pinang on Tuesday, a man named Haris Kiswanto was awaiting news about his older brother, who had been on the flight. 

"My brother, Bambang Rosali Usman, his name was on the manifest of Lion Air JT610. But we are still hoping for a miracle, that he is fine and healthy, maybe stranded somewhere," said Haris. 

Haris Kiswanto, relative of Lion Air passenger
Haris Kiswanto, relative of Lion Air passenger. (Photo: Reuters)

Sugiharto Fong, whose younger sister was on the flight, said: "It is God's will, we cannot do anything. We just hope that his remains will be found by search and rescue team soon. We hope others, like the police, can help (with) the search and find him soon. We'll keep praying." 

READ: ‘Everyone was crying’: Lion Air crash victims' families grow frustrated as authorities scramble for information

LOSING FAMILY

Others face the prospect of losing several family members. 

Djap Min Jung, 40, said five of his loved ones were on the ill-fated Boeing-737 MAX. 

Djap Min Jung holds up a phone showing a picture of one of his relatives
Djap Min Jung holds up a phone showing a picture of one of his relatives who was on board flight JT610. (Photo: Reuters)

Tearful relatives have also gathered at the Jakarta airport, waiting for news of their loves ones.

A mother urged her toddler son to "wait and be brave", while another told her crying girl: "Be patient, pray (for) the best for papa."

Source: CNA/agencies/hs(gs)

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