Public servant with the Finance Ministry Sony Setiawan could not hold back his emotions as he started to cry upon hearing the news about the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang, Bangka Belitung Islands.
Sony, who was posted on Pangkalpinang, was supposed to board the plane to be at work on time on Monday morning. He divided his time between Pangkalpinang and Bandung, West Java, to spend time with his family.
Usually, he would arrive hours before the scheduled flight at Soekarno Hatta International Airport in Tangerang. But the traffic was “unusually jammed” on the Cikampek toll road early on Monday and he didn't arrive at the airport until 6:30 a.m.
The flight took off from Jakarta at 6:20 a.m. and contact was lost at 6:33 a.m.
Sony later bought a ticket for a 9:40 a.m. flight with another airline and arrived in Pangkalpinang at 10:45 a.m.
“I cried when I heard the news because my friends were aboard the flight,” he said as quoted by Antara on Monday.
The Finance Ministry announced later on Monday that 21 of its employees were among the 181 passengers on board the ill-fated plane.
The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has begun search efforts to locate the victims. Debris of the plane has been reported to be located in Java Sea, 7 nautical miles (12.96 kilometers) north of Tanjung Bungin, Karawang, West Java.