JAKARTA, Indonesia－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 suspected pieces of the plane were retrieved.
The Boeing 737-500 with 62 passengers and crew was headed to Pontianak in West Kalimantan on Saturday before it disappeared from radar screens four minutes after takeoff.
It is the first major aircrash 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.
Indonesia National Transport Safety Committee chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said the locations of Flight SJ 182’s two black boxes had been identified.
“Hopefully, we can retrieve them soon,” said military chief Hadi Tjahjanto, without giving an estimated timeframe.
Pieces of wreckage were brought to Jakarta port by rescuers. Authorities said they came from a depth of 23 meters near a group of islands off the Jakarta coast.
One twisted piece of metal was painted in Sriwijaya Air’s blue and red colors. Five body bags with human remains have been collected so far, authorities said.
Police asked families to provide information such as dental records and DNA samples to help identify bodies.
The plane had 12 crew and 50 passengers on board, all Indonesians and including seven children and three babies.
Among the passengers was Beben Sofian, 59, and her husband Dan Razanah, 58.
“They took a selfie and sent it to their kids before taking off,” said the couple’s nephew Hendra.
It’s unclear what caused the crash. There was no sign of survivors.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo expressed his “deep condolences”, and called on citizens to “pray together so that victims can be found”.
The flight was bound for Pontianak city on Indonesia’s section of Borneo island, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.
On Saturday night, distraught relatives waited nervously for News at Pontianak airport.
“I have four family members on the flight－my wife and three children,” Yaman Zai said as he sobbed.
” (My wife) sent me a picture of the baby today … How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”
The plane crashed near popular day-trip islands just off the coast.
Data from FlightRadar24 indicated that the airliner reached an altitude of nearly 3,350 meters before dropping suddenly to 76 meters. It then lost contact with air traffic control.
The transport minister said on Saturday that the jet appeared to deviate from its intended course just before it disappeared from radar.
Poor weather, pilot error or a technical problem with the plane were potential factors, said Jakarta-based aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.
“But it’s way too early to conclude anything. After the black box is found we can start putting the puzzle together.”
Agencies via Xinhua