The heartbreaking final messages and posts of the passengers have been revealed who had been travelling through the doomed Indonesia plane, Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, which crashed into the Java Sea after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta international airport.
The passenger plane had reportedly plunged nearly 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after takeoff for a 90-minute flight to Pontianak in West Kalimantan from Jakarta.
Police asked families to provide information to help identify any bodies retrieved such as dental records and DNA samples.
‘Bye bye family’
A woman, Ratih Windania, had posted a selfie with her three children laughing as the family boarded the plane where she wrote, ‘Bye bye family. We’re heading home for now.’
The message was sent just before they boarded the plane from the Indonesian capital, Dailymail UK reported.
‘Pray for us,’ her brother Irfansyah Riyanto posted on Instagram with a picture of the family. He said his family were originally planning to take a different flight but they changed at the last minute.
Irfansyah rushed to Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport late on Saturday like dozens of other desperate relatives of the passengers. On Sunday, he was still hoping for good news about his sister and four other family members on the flight, including his parents.
‘We feel powerless, we can only wait and hope to have any information soon,’ Irfansyah told reporters.
Irfansyah said his relatives had originally been due to take an earlier flight operated by Sriwijaya’s unit NAM Air and he was unclear why that was changed.
It emerged that his sister and her two children had been at the end of a three-week holiday and were taking the 740 km (460 mile) trip home to Pontianak on the island of West Kalimantan.
‘I was the one who drove them to the airport, helped with the check-ins and the luggage … I feel like I still can’t believe this and it happened too fast,’ Irfansyah said.
‘I really love to fly’
At the police hospital, the brother of co-pilot Diego Mamahit said he had been asked for a blood sample.
‘I believe my younger brother survived, these are just for the police procedure,’ Chris Mamahit said. ‘Diego is a good man, we still believe Diego survived.’
On his LinkedIn profile, Mahamit had written ‘I really love to fly.’
He and pilot Afwan, who goes by only one name, had nearly two decades of commercial flying experience between them. Afwan had previously been an air force pilot.
‘We the family still hope for good news,’ a family member of Afwan, a devout Muslim, told Detik.com.
‘Weather conditions were not good’
Rafiq Yusuf Al Idrus, the husband of a middle-school teacher in Pontianak, Panca Widiya Nursanti, recounted the last contact he had with her when she was returning after a vacation in her home town of Tegal in Central Java.
‘I was joking by saying that when she arrived in Pontianak we would eat satay together,’ he said.
‘She contacted me via Whatsapp at 2.05 p.m with laughter. She was already boarding the plane and she said the weather conditions were not good. I said pray a lot, please.’
President Joko Widodo had offered sympathy on Sunday and said that maximum efforts are being taken to find and rescue the victims.
The head of Indonesia’s transport safety agency said that divers are trying to retrieve the two black boxes that have been found by authorities in the sea along with body parts and plane wreckage.
Personnel on the Rigel navy ship had detected a signal from the fallen plane, in line with the coordinates from the last contact made by the pilots.
Captain EKo Surya Hadi, commander of a local life boat, told local television that human remains were found, saying: ‘We found body parts, life jackets, avtur (aviation turbine fuel) and debris of the plane.’
Locals on a nearby island said they heard two explosions before discovering metal pieces, cables and fragments of a pair of jeans floating in the sea.
Fifty-six passengers – including seven kids and three babies, two pilots and four cabin crew were on board the 26-year-old plane.
The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189.
But the aircraft disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude 8,839 meters.
A dozen vessels – including four warships – were deployed in a search and rescue operation centered between Lancang island and Laki island, part of the Thousand Islands chain just north of Jakarta.
‘Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than [3,000 metres] of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta,’ the tracking agency said on its official Twitter account.
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