Jakarta. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati broke down in tears while meeting relatives of the 20 staff members of her ministry who were on board the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT-610 on Monday morning.
A National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) official said there may be no survivors, after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the sea north of Karawang district, West Java.
"I am, as the leader of the finance ministry, truly sad for the loss of our staff… All of them died while on duty," Sri Mulyani said on Monday evening while trying to hold back her tears.
The minster was visiting Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta, where the bodies of victims are taken for identification.
She explained that the 20 staff members had traveled to Jakarta to celebrate National Finance Day last week. They were from several divisions, including the directorates general of taxation and state asset management.
Sri Mulyani said her ministry would closely monitor the search and rescue operations, as well as the identification process of victims, to assist their families.
Air traffic control lost contact with the aircraft traveling from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang in Bangka Belitung, about 13 minutes after takeoff. There were 189 people on board, including two babies.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered the head of Basarnas, who is also leading the search and evacuation operation, to work around the clock to ensure that they find the aircraft and recover the bodies of victims as soon as possible.
There were also officials from various other government agencies on board the flight, including 10 investigators from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), several regional lawmakers, four judges, state prosecutors and staff of state-owned tin miner Timah.
About 18 body bags had arrived at the police hospital in East Jakarta by Monday night.
The underwater search was expected to resume on Tuesday morning, while efforts to locate the aircraft continued.