Divers search plane wreckage
All 62 passengers perish in tragic Indonesian air crash
Published: Jan 11, 2021 06:03 PM

Members of Search and Rescue (SAR) team conduct a search operation at the plane crash site of the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 in the waters of Lancang Island, Jan. 10, 2021. Indonesia's Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has confirmed the crash of a Boeing 737-500 plane of an Indonesian airlines with 62 people on board that lost contact with the air traffic controller on Saturday afternoon. At a virtual press conference held on Saturday evening, the minister said the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 heading from capital city Jakarta to Pontianak city in West Kalimantan province crashed into the waters off the Seribu District in north of Jakarta. According to him, the plane was believed to have crashed near the district's Laki Island and Lancang Island, part of the Thousand Islands chain. (Xinhua/Veri Sanovri)

Indonesian divers searched waters off Jakarta Monday for black boxes from a passenger jet that crashed at the weekend with 62 people aboard, as investigators took up the grim task of identifying victims' remains.

Retrieving the boxes, cockpit voice and flight data recorders, will likely help explain why the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged about 3,000 meters in less than a minute before slamming into the Java Sea. 

Investigators have so far been unable to say why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, but they do know the location of the black boxes. 

The plane's captain, Afwan, a 54-year-old father of three, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was a former air force pilot with decades of flying under his belt, according to local media.

Some of the 2,600 personnel working in the recovery effort involving dozens of boats and helicopters are hauling body parts, twisted piece of wreckage and passengers' clothing from shallow waters about 23 meters deep.

Underwater photos supplied by Indonesia's navy showed a sea floor littered with wreckage. 

Body bags filled with human remains are being taken to a police hospital where investigators hope to identify victims by matching DNA from their remains to living relatives.

All 62 passengers and crew aboard the half-full flight were Indonesian. The count included 10 children.

Despite the name, black boxes are usually bright orange with reflective stripes, and all commercial planes are obliged to have them on board. 

They're built to survive at vast depths and in extreme heat, and are fitted with a beacon which can emit a signal for one month. 

The devices record information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations.

Black box data help explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

The probe into Saturday's crash, the latest in a string of ­disasters for Indonesia's aviation sector, is likely to take months.

Aviation analysts said flight-tracking data showed the plane sharply deviated from its intended course before it went into a steep dive, with bad weather, pilot error and mechanical malfunction among the potential factors.

"Something quite dramatic has happened after takeoff," said Stephen Wright, professor of aircraft systems at Finland's Tampere University.

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