How I missed boarding ill-fated Lion Air plane, by passenger

Unusually heavy traffic that causes you to miss your flight under most situations would be very unlucky — but for Sony Setiawan, it may have just saved his life.

Setiawan, who works for the Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance, took the 70-minute Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang off Sumatra every week with numerous colleagues. The plane that crashed on Monday morning — which Setiawan missed because of bad Jakarta traffic — had about 20 other Ministry of Finance employees on it, according to Agence France-Press.

“I usually take (flight) JT610 — my friends and I always take this plane,” Setiawan told the outlet. “I don’t know why the traffic at the toll road was so bad. I usually arrive in Jakarta at 3 a.m. but this morning I arrived at the airport at 6:20 and I missed the flight.”

He explained that he didn’t learn about the crash until he landed at his final destination on a later plane, and it was hard to feel grateful under such circumstances.

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

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

On Monday, Lion Air flight 610 took off from Jakarta at 6:21 a.m. local time, and a few minutes later it was asked to turn around, The New York Times reported. It later crashed into the Java Sea, likely killing all 189 people aboard.

“We lost contact,” Indonesian air navigation spokesman Yohanes Sirait said, according to the newspaper. “It was very quick, maybe around one minute.”

The plane was transporting at least one child and two babies. Captain Bhavye Suneja had flown for 6,000 hours, while his copilot, named Harvino, had flown for 5,000, Lion Air said in a statement, according to CNN.

In another statement shared on Lion Air’s website, the airline revealed that “90 people from the affected families have been flown to Jakarta from various states with accommodations provided in Hotel Ibis Cawang, East Jakarta. The information center has been set up at the same hotel as well to ease the hassle of traveling to the post in Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport. 76 more family members are anticipated to arrive tonight.”

Bambang Suryo, the operational director of a search and rescue agency, predicted there are “no survivors, based on body parts found so far,” according to Reuters.

Officials are searching 150 nautical miles and utilizing underwater robots in the effort, CNN reported. Six bodies were recovered from the water and were sent to a hospital in East Jakarta.

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