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JAKARTA: An Indonesian man described how Jakarta’s notorious traffic inadvertently saved his life after he arrived too late to catch the doomed Lion Air plane which plunged into the sea minutes after taking off on Monday.
Sony Setiawan, an official in Indonesia’s finance ministry, was supposed to be on board the ill-fated flight, a journey he and his colleagues made every week.
But while his friends battled their way through Jakarta’s daily congestion to make the flight, Sony found himself stuck on a toll road for hours.
“I usually take (flight) JT610 — my friends and I always take this plane,” Setiawan said.
“I don’t know why the traffic at the toll road was so bad. I usually arrive in Jakarta at 3am, but this morning I arrived at the airport at 6.20 and I missed the flight.”
That gridlock likely saved Setiawan’s life as officials warned it was unlikely anyone would have survived such a crash.
But Setiawan said any gratitude he felt was tinged with the knowledge so many people, including six of his colleagues, were not so fortunate.
“The first time I heard I cried,” he said. “I know my friends were on that flight.”
Setiawan, who is from Bandung in West Java, said he managed to catch a second flight to Pangkal Pinang city and only learned of the crash once he had landed.
The call he made to his briefly stricken family was filled with emotion.
“My family was in shock and my mother cried, but I told them I was safe, so I just have to be grateful,” he said.