Black boxes of crashed Indonesian plane located
Indonesian authorities on Sunday located the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the sea soon after taking off from the capital Jakarta, as human body parts and pieces of the plane were retrieved.
The Boeing 737-500 with 62 passengers and crew was headed on a domestic flight to Pontianak in West Kalimantan on Saturday before it disappeared from radar screens four minutes after takeoff.
Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) chief Soerjan Tjahjono said the locations of Flight SJ182’s two black boxes had been identified.
“Hopefully, we can retrieve them soon,” said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto.
Search will continue into the night, a search and rescue official said, but efforts will be limited to sonar scans by boats.
There were no clues yet as to what caused the crash, the first major air crash in Indonesia since 189 passengers and crew were killed in 2018 when a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max in 2018 also plunged into the Java Sea soon after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
Pieces of wreckage of the latest crash were brought to Jakarta port by rescuers, including the plane’s altimeter radar, emergency chute and a piece that was suspected to have come off of the bottom part of the plane’s tail, KNKT official Nurcahyo Utomo said.
One twisted piece of metal was painted in Sriwijaya Air’s blue and red colors. Authorities said they came from a depth of 23 meters near a group of islands off the Jakarta coast.
Indonesian authorities said they had also retrieved body parts and clothing. Police asked families to provide information such as dental records and DNA samples to identify bodies.
The plane had 12 crew and 50 passengers including 10 children on board, all Indonesians. President Joko Widodo, speaking at the palace in Bogor, expressed “deep condolences” over the disaster and urged the public to pray the missing people could be found.
Tracking service Flightradar24 said the aircraft took off at 2:36pm local time and climbed to reach 10,900 feet within four minutes. It then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.
There were no immediate clues on what caused the sudden descent. Most air accidents are caused by a cocktail of factors that can take months to establish, safety experts say.
A transport ministry spokeswoman said air traffic control had asked the pilot why the plane was heading northwest instead of on its expected flight path seconds before it disappeared. The pilots had decades of experience with the flight captain reported to be a former air force pilot and his co-pilot at Sriwijaya Air since 2013.
“We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time,” Boeing said in a statement.