JAKARTA, Indonesia – A Lion Air (search) passenger plane carrying more than 150 people skidded off a runway in central Indonesia during heavy rain and split into two pieces Tuesday, killing at least 31 people, airline officials and witnesses said.
Three of the dead were children, and at least 62 people were injured, officials said. Some survivors remained stuck in the wreckage for more than three hours after the crash, media reports said.
The accident occurred at about 6 p.m. as Flight JT583 landed in Solo, a thriving tourist town about 310 miles southeast of the capital, Jakarta, the station said. The MD-82 (search) plane took off from Jakarta with 141 passengers and five crew members aboard, airline officials said.
The plane stopped in the East Java town of Surabaya (search) before heading to Solo, where it skidded off the runway, broke up and came to rest in a nearby cemetery about 100 yards away, airport officials said.
"The plane hit the tarmac and we all started yelling 'Allahu akbar!' (God is Great!)," one passenger told Metro TV. "I grabbed a women near me and just tried to reach (the) emergency exit. Everyone around me was screaming."
Metro TV showed a chaotic scene at the airport, with dead and injured passengers lying on the terminal floor and crying relatives searching for news of their loved ones. The plane sat in darkness.
"My plane crashed! My plane crashed!" one passenger screamed into a cell phone. "I've lost everything!"
Many of the passengers were delegates to the annual congress of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest nonpolitical Muslim group, media reports said.
Hours after the crash, Rudi Patrianto, the airport's chief of commercial administration, told The Associated Press that everyone had been pulled from the wreckage.
Lion Air spokesman Hasyim confirmed the crash and offered condolences to the dead and injured. But he said the cause of the crash was not yet known.
Lion Air is Indonesia's top budget airline and recently announced expansion plans. The airline said earlier this month it was buying as many as 25 new planes and expanding routes.