BALI, Indonesia – All 108 passengers and crew survived after a new Lion Air jet crashed into the ocean and snapped into two while attempting to land Saturday on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, injuring up to 45 people.
The injured 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 three foreigners on board – two Singaporeans and a French national – all of whom suffered slight injuries.
TV footage showed police and rescuers using rubber boats to evacuate the 101 passengers and seven crew members. The Boeing 737 could be seen sitting in the shallow water with a large crack in its fuselage.
Officials initially said the plane overshot the runway before hitting the water, but a spokesman for Lion Air, a low-cost carrier, said at a news conference that the plane crashed about 50 meters (164 feet) ahead of the runway. The weather was cloudy with rain at the time of the incident.
“It apparently failed to reach the runway and fell into the sea,” said the spokesman, Edward Sirait.
He said the Boeing 737-800 Next Generation plane was received by the airline last month and was declared airworthy. The plane originated in Bandung, the capital of West Java province, and had landed in two other cities on Saturday prior to the crash.
“We are not in a capacity to announce the cause of the crash,” Sirait said, adding that the National Safety Transportation Committee was investigating.
Those on board recalled being terrified as the plane slammed into the water Saturday afternoon.
“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,” she said. “I got out of the plane and swam before rescuers jumped in to help me.”
Rapidly expanding Lion Air is Indonesia’s top discount carrier, holding about a 50 percent market share in the country, a sprawling archipelago of 240 million people that’s seeing a boom in both economic growth and air travel. The airline has been involved in six accidents since 2002, four of them involving Boeing 737s and one resulting in 25 deaths, according to the Aviation Safety Network’s website.
Lion Air is currently banned from flying to Europe due to broader safety lapses in the Indonesian airline industry that have long plagued the country. Last year, a Sukhoi Superjet-100 slammed into a volcano during a demonstration flight, killing all 45 people on board.
Indonesia is one of Asia’s most rapidly expanding airline markets, but is struggling to provide qualified pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers and updated airport technology to ensure safety.
Lion Air, which started flying in 2000, signed a $24 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 finalized a deal for 230 planes last year. The planes will be delivered from 2014 to 2026.