Friday, June 25, 2021

Body parts found at Indonesian plane crash site

Two body bags have been received so far, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts, say Jakarta police.

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Body parts and debris were hauled from waters near Indonesia’s capital on Sunday from a Boeing passenger plane that crashed shortly after take off with 62 people on board.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.

No reasons have yet been given for the crash, with authorities focusing on a frantic search and rescue effort that appeared to offer no hope of finding any survivors.

“As of this morning, we’ve received two (body) bags, one with passenger belongings and the other with body parts,” Jakarta police spokesman Yusri Yunus told Metro TV.

The discovery came as a flotilla of warships, helicopters and divers were deployed off the coast of the sprawling city Sunday.

Sixty-two passengers and crew were on board, including 10 children, all of them Indonesians, according to authorities.

Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 was bound for Pontianak city on Indonesia’s section of Borneo island, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.

It crashed in the Java Sea near popular day-trip tourist islands just off the coast.

Distraught relatives waited nervously for news at Pontianak airport on Saturday night.

“I have four family members on the flight – my wife and three children,” Yaman Zai said as he sobbed.

“(My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today… How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”

Officials said Sunday they would continue their search by sea and air while also using sonar radar to pick up more signs of the downed jet.

Divers marked at least three sites at the suspected crash site with orange balloons, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.

“From our observation, it is strongly believed the coordinates match the ones from the plane’s last signal contact,” said Hadi Tjahjanto, head of Indonesia’s military.

Hundreds of personnel from search and rescue, the navy, the police, with 10 warships also taking part in the search effort.

Sudden dive

Data from FlightRadar24 said the plane reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350m) before dropping suddenly to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said Saturday that the jet appeared to deviate from its intended course just before it disappeared from radar.

Sriwijaya Air, which has about 19 Boeing jets that fly to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, has said only that it was investigating the loss of contact.

It did not immediately comment when contacted by AFP again on Sunday.

In October 2018, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX jet slammed into the Java Sea about 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a routine one-hour flight.

That crash – and a subsequent fatal flight in Ethiopia – saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the two deadly crashes.

The jet that went down Saturday is not a MAX model and was 26 years old, according to authorities.

In its initial statements on Saturday’s crash, Boeing offered no immediate insights into the cause.

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182. Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families,” the US-based planemaker said in a statement.

“We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.”

Indonesia’s aviation sector has long suffered from a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering US and European airspace.

In 2014, an AirAsia plane crashed with the loss of 162 lives.

Domestic investigators’ final report on the AirAsia crash showed a chronically faulty component in a rudder control system, poor maintenance and the pilots’ inadequate response were major factors in what was supposed to be a routine flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

A year later, in 2015, more than 140 people, including people on the ground, were killed when a military plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Medan on Sumatra island.

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