10 January 2021
PRETORIA – Human remains and plane wreckage have been pulled from the crash site of an Indonesian passenger jet that plunged into the ocean minutes after takeoff on Saturday, with 62 people on board.
The Sriwijaya Air flight 182, a Boeing 737-500 was heading from Jakarta to the city of Pontianak, on the Indonesian island of Borneo, when it lost contact at 2:40 p.m. local time (2:40 a.m. ET), 11 nautical miles north of Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport. Four minutes into the flight, and amid heavy rains, the plane dropped 10,000 feet in less than a minute before disappearing from the radar, according to the global flight tracking service Flightradar24.
Indonesian Navy divers on Sunday found wreckage from flight SJY 182 after locating a signal from the aircraft’s fuselage. Commander of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, said that he is confident that the Navy Rigel Warship has located the plane’s fuselage.
As well as debris from the plane, Indonesian police said they have received two body bags, one containing personal effects belonging to victims, and another containing human remains, Jakarta Police spokesperson Yusri Yunus told CNN.
A command post set up at the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in Jakarta to identify the crash victims and search for family members was working to identify the remains, he said.
The focus of the search is between the islands of Laki and Lancang, known as the Thousand Islands chain, about 20 miles northwest of Jakarta. Some 28 ships, five helicopters and two airplanes have been deployed in a joint effort between the Indonesian Navy, Police, Coast Guard and Transportation Ministry. Navy official Abdul Rasyid said the Indonesian Navy has dispatched 10 ships to the surrounding waters off Laki Island and the Armed Forces chief will visit the search area Sunday morning.
On Saturday, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said it had found several pieces of debris believed to be from the missing plane but bad weather and poor visibility had hampered the search overnight.
The crash site was confirmed Sunday morning by the Indonesian National Armed Forces and Navy divers were deployed to search for the wreckage.
Divers retrieved pieces debris from the site that are the same color as the Sriwijaya Air aircraft, Air Chief Marshal Tjahjanto said at a press conference from the John Lie Warship.
A plane registration number, wheels from the landing gear and life vests have also been uncovered, Tjahjanto said, adding that visibility and conditions in the water were good, and the search for victims continues.
Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) teams have begun an investigation into the cause of the crash.
“We sent two investigators with Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency to the sea to do a location survey. We need to find more information on the location, for example to determine what gear we are going to use regarding the underwater terrain we have,” Suryanto Cahyono told CNN.
Investigators have also been sent to Air Traffic Control at the airport, the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysical Agency, and to Sriwijaya Airlines to gather information.
On Sunday, Indonesia President Joko Widodo offered his condolences and urged people to pray for crash victims.
“We will do our best to find and save the victims, and together, let’s pray that they can be found,” he said at the Presidential Palace, “In the name of the government and Indonesian people we would like to express our condolences on what has happened.”.
The missing plane was carrying 50 passengers 43 adults and 7 children as well as 12 crew members, according to Indonesia’s Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi. Family members have been gathering at the victim identification center in Jakarta, waiting for news of their loved ones.
This weekend’s crash is the latest to rock Indonesia’s burgeoning airline industry.
In October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java sea in Indonesia after Taking off from Jakarta, killing 189 people on board.