|Indonesian Navy divers hold wreckage from Sriwijaya Air flight SJY182 during a search and rescue operation at sea near Lancang island CREDIT: ADEK BERRY/AFP|
50 passengers, including ten children, and 12 crew are missing after the crash.
Investigators in Indonesia are hopeful of discovering the reason why a Boeing 737 with 62 people on board crashed into the sea, after divers located the plane’s black boxes.
The Sriwijaya Air flight took off from the capital, Jakarta, on Saturday afternoon, but soon went into a deep dive into the Java Sea.
There was no sign of any survivors among the 50 passengers and 12 crew members. Ten of the passengers were children.
After almost a day of searching by helicopters and warships, rescuers announced they had identified the location of the crash site and the plane’s flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder – otherwise known as the black boxes. A navy ship had detected emergency signals sent out by the boxes.
Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said they hoped they could lift the black boxes out soon to determine the cause of the crash.
Rescuers had earlier found parts of the plane at a depth of 23 metres in the Java Sea, as well as debris, body parts, life jackets and children’s clothing.
The area determined to be the crash site fits the coordinates of the plane’s last known contact before it disappeared on Saturday afternoon.
Fishermen in the area around Thousand Islands, north of Jakarta’s coast, had reported hearing something explode.
“We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw a big splash from the water,” Solihin, who goes by one name, told the Associated Press news agency. “It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad, so it was difficult to see around clearly,” Solihin said.
“But we saw the splash and a big wave after the loud sound. We were very shocked and saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.”
All those on board were Indonesian, authorities said. The passengers included Beben Sofian, 59, and her husband Dan Razanah, 58.
Medical officers spray desinfectant to debris of the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182, found in the water off Jakarta CREDIT: ADI WEDA/EPA-EFE/SHUTTERSTOCK /SHUTTERSTOCK
“They took a selfie and sent it to their kids before taking off,” the couple’s nephew Hendra told the AFP news agency.
Any hope of finding survivors was fast fading. The search and rescue agency said on Sunday afternoon that it had so far filled five body bags with human remains and debris.
The plane operated by Sriwijaya Air, a low-cost airline, had taken off at 2.36 pm on Saturday for a 90-minute flight to Pontianak, the capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province on Borneo island.
It disappeared from radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control for permission to ascend to 29,000 feet, transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi said.
The plane had taken off late because of bad weather, according to the head of Sriwijaya Air, Jefferson Irwin Jauwena. He said the Boeing 737-500 plane, which was 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the U.S., was airworthy, and had flown to two other cities on the same day.
For more than a decade from 2007, The United States and European Union banned all Indonesian airlines from operating within their borders following a series of crashes and reports of poor oversight and maintenance.
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