‘Hoping for a miracle’: Anxious wait for friends and families after Sriwijaya Air plane goes missing in Indonesia

‘Hoping for a miracle’: Anxious wait for friends and families after Sriwijaya Air plane goes missing in Indonesia

Relatives of passengers on board missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182
Relatives of passengers on board missing Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 wait for news at the Supadio airport in Pontianak on Indonesia's Borneo island on Jan 9, 2021, after contact with the aircraft was lost shortly after take-off from Jakarta. (Photo: AFP/Louis Anderson)

JAKARTA: Friends and families of those who were onboard a Sriwijaya Air plane that went missing shortly after takeoff on Saturday (Jan 9) were waiting anxiously for news on their loved ones.

The plane was supposed to fly from Jakarta to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province. There were 62 people, including 10 children onboard.

“I am hoping for a miracle, although judging from the circumstances, I know that the chances of finding them alive are slim,” Mr Muhammad Haekal, whose cousin Mr Rizki Wahyudi and four other members of his family were onboard the SJY182 flight. 

“I hope that (rescuers) would at least retrieve their bodies so we can give them proper burials.”

READ: Black boxes location for downed Indonesian Sriwijaya Air plane found

Mr Haekal said he and other family members rushed to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport upon hearing the news. “We couldn’t believe it and when officials confirmed that they were among those onboard, we were devastated,” he told CNA. 

Mr Wahyudi, he said, had just been reassigned to work in West Kalimantan province. Travelling with him on the flight was his eight-month-old son, his wife, his mother-in-law and another cousin. 

READ: More debris found as Indonesian authorities race against time to search for missing Sriwijaya Air plane

Mr Arya Kharisma Hadi was also hoping for a miracle for his friend Mr Mulyadi and three family members who were with him on the flight. Mr Mulyadi, like many Indonesians, goes by one name. 

“I really hope that they somehow, through some miracle, survive. I really hope that they are alive,” he said. 

Mdm Betty Saprianti said four of her relatives were on the flight: her auntie, uncle, cousin and her cousin’s daughter. 

“I am praying to Allah, I hope Allah will give us a miracle and save their lives. I am not ready to face the alternatives. Please Allah, save them.”

Meanwhile, the sister of a flight crew who requested anonymity said: “My family is really shaken, especially my ageing mother.”

“That’s why I told her not to come to the airport. I really wish that rescuers would find my sister alive,” she told CNA at Soekarno-Hatta airport as tears rolled down her eyes.   

At a press conference on Saturday night, transport ministry spokeswoman Adita Irawati said that the plane seemed to have deviated from its route shortly before going missing.

The air traffic controller tried to contact the plane but it disappeared just seconds later, she said. 

Flight map of Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182
A flight tracker map showing Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 after it took off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Image: Twitter/Flightradar24)

Earlier, a spokesperson from the Indonesian transport ministry said the commercial flight SJY182 took off at about 2.36pm (Western Indonesia Time) and was scheduled to land in Pontianak at 4.15pm. 

"The control tower's last contact with the plane was at 2.40pm, before the contact was lost," said the spokesperson.

READ: Sriwijaya Air crash places Indonesia's aviation safety under fresh spotlight

The search and rescue agency said in a press conference that debris was found between Laki island and Lancang island in northern Jakarta, but could not confirm if it is from the plane. 

Search and rescue operations will go into the night if necessary, the agency said, while noting that there are issues with visibility.

Sriwijaya Air has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

The head of the national transport safety committee, Soerjanto Tjahjanto, said that all the passengers were Indonesians. 

"That's why we haven't notified other countries, apart from the US (as the plane was a Boeing)," he said.

Source: CNA/nh