Indonesian rescuers removed body parts, clothing and metal debris from the Java Sea on Sunday morning, a day after a Boeing 737-500 with 62 people on board crashed shortly after taking off from Jakarta, authorities said. .
Officials were hoping they were targeting the wreckage of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 after sonar equipment detected a signal from the aircraft.
Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said authorities had carried out massive search efforts after identifying “the possible location of the crash site.”
“These pieces were found by the SAR [search and rescue] team between Lancang Island and Laki Island, ”Bagus Puruhito of the National Search and Rescue agency said in a statement.
Indonesian Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said that the Rigel Navy ship crews equipped with a remotely operated vehicle had detected a signal from the aircraft, which matched the coordinates of the last contact made by the pilots before. of the plane disappearing.
“We have immediately deployed our divers from the elite navy unit to determine the find to evacuate the victims,” Tjahjanto said.
More than 12 hours after the Boeing plane operated by the Indonesian airline lost contact, little is known about the cause of the accident.
Fishermen in the area around the Thousand Islands, a chain of islands north off the coast of Jakarta, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami, because after that we saw the big splash of water,” fisherman Solihin, who has a name, told the Associated Press by phone.
“It was raining a lot and the weather was so bad. That is why it is difficult to see clearly around. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and saw directly the debris from the plane and the fuel around our ship. “
Sumadi said that flight SJ182 was delayed for an hour before taking off at 2.36 p.m. It disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters). ), said.
There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.
“We are aware of the Jakarta media reports on Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, the passengers and their families. We are in contact with the customer of our airline and we are ready to support them during this difficult time. “
Authorities established two crisis centers, one at the airport and the other at a port. Families gathered to wait for news of their loved ones.
On social media, people began circulating the flight manifesto with photos and videos of those listed as passengers. A video shows a woman with her children saying goodbye as she walks through the airport.
Sriwijaya Air President Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which was 26 years old and had previously been used by airlines in the United States, was fit to fly. He told reporters on Saturday that the plane had previously flown to the city of Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang on the same day.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 260 million people, has been hit by transportation accidents on land, sea and air due to overcrowded ferries, outdated infrastructure and poor safety regulations.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by Lion Air sank in the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another 737 Max 8 accident in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the grounding of the Max 8 for 20 months. .
The Lion Air accident was the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda airline flight near Medan on the island of Sumatra. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore sank into the sea, killing 162 people.
Sriwijaya Air has only had several minor incidents in the past, although a farmer was killed in 2008 when the plane went off the runway while landing due to a hydraulic problem.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism