Indonesian divers discover pieces of plane wreckage in Java Sea

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Indonesian divers located parts of the wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 at a depth of 23 meters (75 feet) in the Java Sea on Sunday, a day after the plane with 62 people on board caught crashed shortly after take off from Jakarta.

“We have received reports from the diving team that the visibility in the water is good and clear, allowing the discovery of parts of the plane,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said in a statement. “We’re sure that’s when the plane crashed.”

He said the objects included broken fuselage pieces with aircraft registration parts.

Previously, rescuers had removed body parts, clothing and pieces of metal from the surface.

“I hope until this afternoon the current conditions and the view under the sea are still good so that we can continue the search,” he said.

The interruption of the search for Sriwijaya Aerial Flight 182 came after sonar equipment on a Navy vessel detected a signal from the aircraft at a location corresponding to the coordinates of the last contact made by the pilots before the ‘plane did not disappear on Saturday afternoon.

It is still not clear what caused the accident. There was no sign of survivors.

“I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my sincere condolences for this tragedy,” said President Joko Widodo.

“We are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together that the victims can be found, ”he said, adding that he had asked the National Transportation Safety Committee to investigate.

Fishermen in the area between Lancang and Laki Islands, which are part of an archipelago around the Thousand Islands north of the Jakarta coast, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami because after that we saw the big splash of water,” Solihin, who has a name, told The Associated Press. by telephone.

“It was raining a lot and the weather was so bad. It is therefore difficult to see clearly around. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and saw the plane wreckage and fuel directly around our boat.

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said flight SJ182 was delayed an hour before taking off at 2:36 p.m. It disappeared from radar four minutes later after the pilot contacted air traffic control. air traffic to climb to an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters). he said.

There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.

“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta regarding Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the crew, passengers and their families. We are in contact with our airline customers and are ready to support them during this difficult time. “

The authorities have established two crisis centers, one at the airport and one at the port. Families have gathered to await news of their loved ones.

On social media, people began circulating the flight manifesto with photos and videos of those on the passenger list. Video shows a woman with her children greeting as they walk through the airport.

Sriwijaya Air chief executive officer Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which is 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, is airworthy. He told reporters on Saturday that the plane had already flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang on the same day.

“The maintenance report indicated that everything had gone well and was airworthy,” Jauwena said at a press conference. He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not damage.

Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago with over 260 million inhabitants, has been plagued by land, sea and air transport accidents due to overcrowded ferries, aging infrastructure and safety standards poorly applied.

In October 2018, a Lion Air-operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The plane involved in Saturday’s incident lacked the automated flight control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another 737 MAX 8 crash in Ethiopia five months later, resulting in immobilization of the MAX 8 for 20 months. .

The Lion Air crash was the worst air disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda Airlines flight near Medan on the island of Sumatra. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya in Singapore plunged into the sea, killing 162 people.

Sriwijaya Air has only had several minor incidents in the past, although a farmer was killed in 2008 when the landing plane left the runway due to a hydraulic problem.

The United States banned Indonesian carriers from operating in the country in 2007, but overturned the decision in 2016, citing improvements in compliance with international aviation standards. The European Union has already had similar bans, lifted in June 2018.

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