World

Distraught Indonesians wait for news of loved ones after plane crash

Relatives recount last contact with loved ones on flight SJ 182; authorities locate black boxes

PONTIANAK: Broken bodies, broken hearts and broken dreams.

Accounts of loss, grief and pain were strewn in the wreckage of people's lives in the aftermath of the Sriwijaya Air crash.

Flight SJ 182 from Jakarta to Pontianak in West Kalimantan disappeared from radar screens four minutes after takeoff in rainy weather yesterday. It was carrying 62 passengers and crew members.

On Saturday night, distraught relatives waited for news at Pontianak airport.

Ms Panca Widiya Nursanti, a middle school teacher in Pontianak, had been returning after a vacation in her home town of Tegal in Central Java.

Her husband Rafiq Yusuf Al Idrus recounted the last contact he had with her.

"I was joking by saying that when she arrived in Pontianak we would eat satay together," he said.

"She contacted me via WhatsApp at 2.05pm with laughter. She was already boarding the plane and she said the weather conditions were not good. I said pray a lot, please."

Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed his "deep condolences", and called on citizens to "pray together so that victims can be found".

But the frantic search, involving helicopters and a flotilla of warships, appeared to offer no hope of finding any survivors. The search and rescue agency said it had so far collected five body bags with human remains as well as debris from the site.

A child's pink clothing, a broken tyre and wheel, life jackets and wreckage from the plane were found, said authorities.

"I have four family members on the flight - my wife and three children," Mr Yaman Zai said as he sobbed.

"(My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today... How could my heart not be torn into pieces?"

Indonesian authorities yesterday located the black boxes.

"Hopefully, we can retrieve them soon," said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, without giving an estimated time frame.

The Singapore Government said it was saddened by news of the crash and conveyed its "deepest condolences to the government of Indonesia and the families that are left behind".

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said there were no reports so far of any Singaporeans being on board.

Singaporeans who need help should contact the Embassy of Singapore in Jakarta on +62-811-863-348 or MFA Duty Office on 6379-8800/8855, the MFA spokesman said. - REUTERS, AFP, THE STRAITS TIMES

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