Unexpected arrival: A passenger injured in the crash of Lion Air flight JT-960 receives treatment at Kasih Ibu Hospital in Bali. (JP/Agung Parameswara)
Landing at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Badung, Bali, usually provides passengers with a beautiful view of sandy beaches.
It was a different story for those on board Lion Air flight JT-960 yesterday. Instead of a smooth landing, the Boeing 737-800 they were aboard on ditched into the sea.
“We heard the flight attendant announce that we were about to land when suddenly the aircraft fell and we were in the sea,” said one of the passengers, Andis Prasetoyo, who suffered only slight injuries.
Flight JT-960 took off from Bandung at 12:35 p.m. and the accident took place at about 3:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Jakarta time).
All 108 people on board, 95 adult passengers, five children, one baby and seven crew members survived the impact. Two of the passengers were Singaporeans and one a French national.
The aircraft suffered damage to its fuselage and wings.
Rescue workers took 46 passengers and crew to a number of hospitals for treatment.
Most people were treated at Kasih Ibu Hospital in Kedonganan, which received 31 injured survivors. Sanglah General Hospital treated 10 people, three were sent to the BMC Hospital. Surya Husada Hospital and Kasih Ibu Hospital on Jl. Teuku Umar treated one person each.
Most people were suffering from shock or minor cuts and bruises from the impact. Other passengers who sustained minor injuries or suffered from shock were allowed to return home or go to their hotels.
Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Arif Wachyunadi declined to comment on the reasons for the accident, saying it would be up to the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) to reveal the cause after an investigation.
“We were very grateful that all passengers and crew were safe,” he told a press conference at the airport’s emergency operations center.
Arif applauded all parties that took part in the rescue such as the military, the National SAR Agency and locals, especially fishermen.
KNKT investigators were expected to arrive in Bali later on Saturday.
Following the incident, the airport was closed for about 90 minutes, reopening at 5 p.m. local time.
Three arriving flights were redirected to Lombok International Airport, while another eight were requested to hold for about 15 minutes in the air. Four departures were also delayed, head of the airport’s operation and readiness department, Tri Basuki, announced.
“We have secured the black box flight recorders, but have to wait for the KNKT investigators,” he added.
Tri added that the pilot, Capt. Mahlup Gozali, was still being treated and had not been questioned yet.
Lion Air general director Eduard Sirait told a press conference at the airlines’s office in Jakarta that Capt. Mahlup Gozali was a senior pilot.
“He has more than 10,000 flying hours experience. Before this flight, his health was good and after the incident his health was also reported to be good,” he said.
“The entire cabin crew, including the pilot, had met all the standard medical obligations,” he added.
Eduard explained that the 180-seater aircraft had been in operation for only two months.
“This is a new aircraft. We received the plane directly from Boeing in March 2013,” he said.
“The aircraft had met all standard operational procedures before leaving Bandung at 12:30 p.m.”
When asked about reporters in Bali being prohibited from covering the accident, he said that everything in the area belonged to the airport management authority and Lion Air had no authority on the issue.
Eduard also said that the airline would be ready to transport passengers to their hometowns as soon as they were ready to go back.
The airline will also pay compensations for any losses suffered by the passengers, he added.
State travel insurance company PT Jasa Raharja covers treatment expenses up to Rp 25 million (US$2.57 million) for passengers who are treated at hospital. As for out-patients, they will cover the treatment costs themselves. (hrl)