WORLD / ASIA-PACIFIC
Indonesia finds body parts, detects signal of crashed jet
Published: Jan 10, 2021 06:23 PM
Indonesian authorities on Sunday located the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the sea soon after taking off from the capital Jakarta, as human body parts and suspected pieces of the plane were retrieved. The Boeing 737-500 with 62 passengers and crew members was headed to Pontianak in West Kalimantan on Saturday before it disappeared from radar screens four minutes after takeoff.

It is the first major aircrash in Indonesia since 189 passengers and crew were killed in 2018 when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max in 2018 also plunged into the Java Sea soon after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Rescuers lay out body bags containing human remains recovered from the crash site of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182 at the port in Jakarta, Indonesia on Sunday, following the Saturday crash of the airline's Boeing 737-500 aircraft into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff. Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said the locations of Flight SJ 182's two black boxes have been identified. Photo: AFP


Even before the latest crash, more people had died in air cashes in Indonesia than in any other country over the past decade, according to Aviation Safety Network's database.

Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said the locations of Flight SJ 182's two black boxes have been identified. "Hopefully, we can retrieve them soon," said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, without giving an estimated timeframe.

Pieces of wreckage were brought to Jakarta port by rescuers. Authorities said they came from a depth of 23 meters near a group of islands off the Jakarta coast. One twisted piece of metal was painted in Sriwijaya Air's blue and red colors. Indonesian authorities said they had also retrieved body parts and clothing.

Police asked families to provide information such as dental records and DNA samples to help identify bodies. The plane had 12 crew members and 50 passengers on board, all Indonesians and including seven children and three babies.

President Joko Widodo, speaking at the palace in Bogor, expressed "deep condolences" over the disaster and urged the public to pray the missing people could be found.

Tracking service Flightradar24 said the aircraft took off at 2:36 pm local time (0736 GMT) and climbed to reach 3,406 meters within four minutes. It then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.

There were no immediate clues on what caused the jet's sudden descent. Most air accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that can take months to establish, safety experts say.

A transport ministry spokeswoman said air traffic control had asked the pilot why the plane was heading northwest instead of on its expected flight path seconds before it disappeared.

The pilots had decades of experience between them with the flight captain reported to be a former air force pilot and his copilot at Sriwijaya Air since 2013.

The Sriwijaya Air plane was a nearly 27-year-old Boeing 737-500, much older than Boeing's problem-plagued 737 MAX model. Older 737 models are widely flown and do not have the stall-prevention system implicated in the MAX safety crisis.
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