‘Bye family’: Mum’s post before crash
A heartbreaking message has been revealed of a mum who was travelling with her children on Saturday’s doomed Indonesian flight SJ182 which crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff.
Rathi Windania posted pictures of two laughing children before boarding the Boeing 737 that crashed into the sea carrying 62 passengers and crew members just minutes into the flight.
She sent the pictures from Jakarta’s airport alongside the message: “Bye bye family. We’re heading home for now,” with two emojis blowing kisses.
Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 took off from the Indonesian capital on Saturday bound for Pontianak, on the Indonesian side of Borneo, when it lost contact at 2.40pm local time.
Authorities in Indonesia say they have located the plane’s black boxes that may help in determining the reason for the crash.
Ms Windania’s brother Irfansyah Riyanto posted a picture of his sister and her children alongside the words: “Pray for us.”
He had rushed to Soekarno Hatta Airport on Saturday night in a desperate attempt for information about the flight carrying his sister and other family members, including his parents.
Investigators and relatives are still hoping to find survivors, but that hope is fading fast.
The aircraft, carrying 62 passengers and crew members, “disappeared” from radar screens minutes into the flight.
Pieces of the wreckage and bodies were recovered on Sunday from the Java Sea, Indonesian authorities said.
Signals from the plane’s black box were tracked by Indonesian police, which was found on the seabed.
They believe it is 23m below the surface.
The head of the National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), Suryanto Cahyono, said he was confident experts had located the black box’s position and had handed over “portable ping detection devices to navy divers so they can find it”.
Irfansyah, Ms Windania’s distraught brother, told reporters: “We feel powerless. We can only wait and hope to have any information soon.”
He explained how his relatives had originally planned to take an earlier flight operated by Sriwijaya’s unit NAM Air, but it was unclear why they changed plans.
His sister and her two children were returning home to Pontianak on the island of West Kalimantan, after a three-week holiday.
“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,” he said.
The aircraft dropped 3000m in under 60 seconds, with locals reporting hearing two explosions before they found debris floating in the sea.
The Indonesian navy has deployed 11 vessels to hunt for the plane’s wreckage underwater.
Police have asked families to provide information to help identify the bodies found, such as dental records and DNA samples.
The brother of co-pilot Diego Mamahit told how he had been asked for blood samples at the police hospital.
“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.”
Diego’s LinkedIn profile explains his role flying the Boeing 737 planes, as well as the words, “I really love to fly.”
Ms Mamahit and pilot Afwan, who goes by only one name, had nearly two decades of commercial flying experience between them.
A family member of the pilot told Detik.com: “We the family still hope for good news.”
Other families shared their agonising last messages with loved ones on board the tragic flight.
Rafiq Yusuf Al Idrus outlined the last communications he had with his wife Panca Widiya Nursanti, a middle-school teacher in Pontianak.
She had been returning from a trip to her home town of Tegal in Central Java, and told her husband the weather conditions were “not good”.
“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.
“I was joking by saying that when she arrived in Pontianak we would eat satay together,” he said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo extended his sympathies to the families of the victims, saying: “We are making our best efforts to find and rescue the victims and we all pray that they can be found.”
The Sea and Coast Guard Unit (KPLP) said they found what appeared to be the jet’s emergency staircase, which is located at its door.
Officials confirmed the plane crashed between Lancang Island and Laki Island in the Thousand Islands area.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission