A PASSENGER jet carrying more than 100 passengers and crew crashed into the ocean while attempting to land today on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, injuring up to 45 people, officials said.
All 101 passengers and seven crew members were safely rescued from the Lion Air plane, said I Made Krisna Maharta, an official with Bali’s search and rescue agency.
Up to 45 people were taken to several different hospitals for treatment, but there appeared to be no serious injuries, said airport spokesman Alfasyah, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. There were only three foreigners on board - two Singaporeans and a French national. All three suffered slight injuries.
TV footage showed police and rescuers using rubber boats to evacuate passengers and crew members. The Boeing 737 could be seen sitting on the water with a large crack in its fuselage.
Officials initially said the plane overshot the runway and fell into the sea, but a spokesman for Lion Air, a low-cost carrier, said at a news conference that the plane hit the water before making it to the runway. The weather was cloudy with light rain at the time of the crash.
The spokesman, Edward Sirait, said the new Boeing 737-800 Next Generation plane was received by the airline last month and was declared airworthy. The plane originated from Bandung, the capital of West Java province, and had landed in two other cities today prior to the crash.
“We are not in a capacity to announce the cause of the crash,” Mr Sirait said, adding that the National Safety Transportation Committee was investigating.
Passengers recalled being terrified as the plane slammed into the water.
“The aircraft was in landing position when suddenly I saw it getting closer to the sea, and finally it hit the water,” Dewi, a passenger who sustained head wounds in the crash and uses one name, told The Associated Press.
“All of the passengers were screaming in panic in fear they would drown. I left behind my belongings and went to an emergency door. I got out of the plane and swam before rescuers jumped in to help me.”
Lion Air is a rapidly expanding carrier that holds about a 45% market share in Indonesia, a sprawling archipelago that’s seeing a boom in both economic growth and air travel.
Air travel safety issues are a long-time problem in Indonesia, highlighted last year when a Sukhoi Superjet-100 plane crashed into a volcano during a demonstration flight, killing all 15 people on board.
Lion Air signed a 24 billion dollar (£15.54 billion) deal last month to buy 234 Airbus planes, the biggest order ever for the French aircraft maker. It also gave Boeing its largest-ever order when it finalised a deal for 230 planes last year. The planes will be delivered between 2014 and 2026.