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Airplane crashes in water off Bali, no fatalities (+video)

A Lion Air Boeing 737 crash landed short of the runway in Bali, Indonesia. All 101 passengers and seven crew members were rescued alive Saturday within minutes. But dozens were taken to the hospital. Why did a new Boeing 737-800 crash?

By Staff writer / April 13, 2013

The wreckage of a crashed Lion Air 737-800 plane sits on the water near the airport in Bali, Indonesia on Saturday, April 13, 2013.

(AP Photo/Indonesian police

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Everyone on board survived when a new Boeing 737-800 aircraft landed in the water just short of the runway in Bali, Indonesia

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All 101 passengers and seven crew members aboard a Lion Air flight were rescued Saturday within minutes of the crash. Some 45 people have been taken to local hospitals with injuries, but none seemed life threatening, according to one Indonesian airport official.

Initial reports said the aircraft had overshot the runway. But a Lion Air spokesman, Edward Sirait, told reporters that the plane did not reach the runway, it hit the water first.

Three of the passengers aboard were foreigners, two Singaporeans and a French national, according to The Associated Press. The rest of those on board were Indonesians on a domestic flight that originated in Bandung, West Java. The flight had stopped at two other cities prior to the crash on Bali.

After the crash, evacuation and rescue efforts proceeded quickly, according to eyewitness accounts. An Australian surfer told The Sydney Morning Herald that the aircraft came down in shallow water about 300 yards from where he was paddling. By the time he joined the rescue effort, about five minutes later, he said that most of the passengers were on the wing or climbing onto rocks. He helped one man to shore on his surfboard. 

The aircraft involved was a new Boeing 737-800, a popular design in use worldwide. A total of 4,293 of the 737 Next Generation aircraft (including the 737-600, -700-, -800, and -900ER models) have been delivered by the end of December 2012, according to Boeing.

Boeing boasts that the 737-800 is the best-selling aircraft in the Next Generation series (with more than 2,800 in operation and more than 4,000 ordered). Boeing says that the aircraft is "known for its reliability, fuel efficiency and economical performance, the 737-800 is selected by leading carriers throughout the world because it provides operators the flexibility to serve a wide range of markets. The single-aisle jet, which can seat between 162 to 189 passengers, can fly 260 nautical miles farther and consume 7 percent less fuel while carrying 12 more passengers than the competing model."

This was a new aircraft, only in operation since March, which should mean that aircraft mechanical reliability or age, shouldn't be an issue. But Lion Air spokesman Edward Sirait, hinted that the aircraft was the problem  “When it tried to land at the airport, the aircraft was not able to reach the runway due to the incident," he said according to The Jakarta Post.  The spokesman did not describe the nature of the incident. The pilot, said Sirait, had more than 10,000 hours of flying experience, but he didn't say in which types of aircraft.

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