Indonesia plane crash search finds remains, debris at sea
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Search and rescue personnel worked through the night to find victims of the Lion Air plane crash in Indonesia, sending 24 body bags to identification experts as the airline flew dozens of grieving relatives to the country’s capital.
The 2-month-old Boeing jet crashed into the Java Sea early Monday, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
The National Search and Rescue Agency said Tuesday that 10 intact bodies as well as body parts had been recovered. President Joko Widodo had ordered the search and rescue effort to continue through the night.
The disaster has reignited concerns about safety in Indonesia’s fast-growing aviation industry, which was recently removed from European Union and U.S. blacklists.
Data pinged from the Boeing 737 Max 8 showed erratic speed, altitude and direction in the minutes after takeoff. Safety experts cautioned, however, that the data must be checked for accuracy against the plane’s so-called black boxes, if they are recovered.
Specialist ships and a remotely operated underwater vehicle have been deployed to search for the plane’s hull and flight recorder.
Distraught family members struggled to comprehend the sudden loss of loved ones in the crash of a plane with experienced pilots in fine weather.
“This is a very difficult time for our family,” said Leo Sihombing, outside a crisis center set up for family members at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport.
“We know that it is very unlikely that my cousin is still alive, but no one can provide any certainty or explanation,” he said as other family members wept and hugged each other.
“What we hope now is rescuers can find his body, so we can bury him properly, and authorities can reveal what caused the plane crash,” Sihombing said.
More than 300 people including soldiers, police and fishermen are involved in the grim search, retrieving aircraft debris and personal items such as a crumpled cellphone, ID cards and carry-on bags from the seas northeast of Jakarta.
Search and Rescue Agency chief Muhammad Syaugi has said he’s certain it won’t take long to locate the hull of the aircraft and its flight recorders due to the relatively shallow 30 meter (115 foot) depth of the waters where it crashed.