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Man Missed Lion Air Flight That Crashed With 189 People

A man has cheated death after he accidentally missed his flight yesterday before the plane crashed into the sea off the coast of Indonesia.

Sony Setiawan was due to be among the 189 passengers and crew on board the doomed Lion Air flight when it took off early from Jakarta on Monday morning.

However, due to traffic, Mr Setiawan was held up on his commute to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, meaning he never boarded flight JT 610.

Passenger Lucky To Be Alive After He Missed The Lion Air Flight That Crashed With 189 People On Board Due To Traffic

Just minutes after take off the plane disappeared from radar and plunged 5,000ft into the Java Sea. Officials do not expect to find any survivors as they work to collect aircraft debris, personal belongings and sadly human remains from the sea.

Mr Setiawan ended up catching a later flight to Pangkal Pinang on another airline and it wasn’t until after he arrived safely at his destination that he heard the devastating news about his original flight.

Speaking with Australian Federal Police, Mr Setiawan said that he and his colleagues caught the ill-fated Lion Air flight on a weekly basis.

“I usually take (flight) JT610 - my friends and I always take this plane,” he explained.

“I don’t know why the traffic at the toll road was so bad. I usually arrive in Jakarta at 3am but this morning I arrived at the airport at 6:20 and I missed the flight.”

While it appears a twist of fate saved Mr Setiawan’s life, he continued to say that any gratitude that he felt was overshadowed by the grief he felt that so many people, including six of his colleagues, were not so lucky.

“The first time I heard I cried,” he said. “I know my friends were on that flight.”

Mr Setiawan said that making the call to his family to tell them that he was still alive was incredibly emotional.

“My family was in shock and my mother cried, but I told them I was safe, so I just have to be grateful,” he continued.

Human remains, aircraft debris and personal belongings have been retrieved from the Java Sea after a Boeing jet operated by an Indonesian budget airline crashed minutes after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Distraught family members struggled to comprehend the sudden loss of loved ones after the crash involving a two-month-old Lion Air plane with experienced pilots at the controls amid fine weather.

They gathered at crisis centres set up by the authorities at airports, hoping desperately for a miracle. But a top search official has said that no survivors are expected.

The disaster is a setback for Indonesia's airline industry, which just emerged from decade-long bans by the European Union and the US over safety concerns.

President Joko Widodo ordered an investigation and urged Indonesians to "keep on praying".

The crash of the Boeing 737 Max 8 on Monday is the latest in a series of tragedies that have struck Indonesia this year, including earthquakes and a tsunami that killed several thousand people.

An air transport official, Novie Riyanto, said the flight was cleared to return to Jakarta after the pilot made a "return to base" request two to three minutes after taking off.

The plane plunged into the sea about 10 minutes later. Weather conditions were normal but the plane, which Lion Air received in August, had experienced an unspecified technical issue on its previous flight.

Relatives and friends wept, prayed and hugged each other as they waited at Jakarta's airport and at Pangkal Pinang's airport on Bangka island off Sumatra, where the flight was heading.

Some, including Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, headed to the search and rescue agency's headquarters in Jakarta for information. About 20 ministry staff were on the flight.

More than 300 people including soldiers, police and fishermen are involved in the grim search, retrieving aircraft debris and personal items such as a crumpled mobile phone, ID cards and carry-on bags from the seas northeast of Jakarta.

Search and Rescue Agency chief Muhammad Syaugi said he is certain it will not take long to locate the hull of the aircraft and its black box because of the relatively shallow (30-35m) depths of the waters it plunged into.

Three specialised search ships, including one from Singapore, are to help with the search.

The jet, which was on a one-hour flight, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

Lion Air said there were two foreigners on the plane: one of the pilots, Indian national Bhavye Suneja, and an Italian citizen.

The pilot of Flight 610 had more than 6000 flying hours while the co-pilot had more than 5000 hours, according to Lion Air.

Boeing said it is "deeply saddened" by the crash and is prepared to provide technical assistance to Indonesia's crash probe.

The 737 Max 8 was leased from China Minsheng Investment Group Leasing Holdings, according to the official China News Service.

Lion Air president-director Edward Sirait said the plane had a "technical problem" on its previous flight from Bali to Jakarta but it had been fully remedied.

The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.

With AAP. 

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