An Indonesian airplane which crashed late on Monday is still missing. Previous information from authorities saying that the plane had crashed in the mountains of West Sulawesi province and that there had been 12 survivors, was absolutely wrong, and the search for the missing plane continues today.
It took 12 hours for the authorities to publicly correct that information.
The officials, who then made a public apology, explained that the misinformation came from local villagers who claimed that they saw the plane crash. When they informed the authorities, the press was told immediately before the information was double checked.
The media then broadcast the information to the public without checking other sources. The reason for this is that the location is in a remote area and it takes six hours to get there by foot.
On Tuesday afternoon, when the Search and Rescue Team arrived they spent four hours at the location but found nothing. The search ended as night fell and the results were shared with the press.
Transportation Minister Hatta Radjasa acknowledged that that the first false reports made the tragedy even harder for the passengers and said that the government apologized for it. He urged the family of the passengers to be calm.
Local authorities such as the military commander of South Sulawesi region, the head of police, and Hasanuddin Airport chief, who spread the initial false reports to the media, also clarified the right information.
It is uncertain information that makes the relatives of the passengers anguished and disappointed. One of the relatives previously hoped that her loved ones were still alive when she heard that 12 passengers survived the crash. Finally she got angry when authorities announced the plane was still missing.
Arya Bima, a member of parliament who had five of his relatives on board, also expressed his annoyance. He complained that there was no need for the public to have to wait for more than 12 hours just to hear that the plane was still missing, as if there was no coordination between the authorities.
He explained that he had sent his brother to Makassar to attend the bodies of his relatives, but that he learned that the situation had changed from watching television.
Another relative expressed his hopelessness. “It previously said that the Search and Rescue Team had seen the aircraft. Now we get different information. We don’t know who we should trust,” said one of the passengers’ family.
Another problem for the passengers’ families is that some of them could not get the free flight from Adam Air to go to Makassar or Manado to look after their dead relatives. Some of them chose to fly with their own budget.
Minister Hatta Radjasa said that searching would be focused on the area where the plane was last recorded, based on Singapore’s radar reports. The team also would inspect the sea 300 kilometers northwest of Makassar where the last contact between the aircraft with Hasanuddin Airport officers came from.