In­done­sian divers zero in on lo­ca­tion of crashed plane

The Myanmar Times - - Metro -

A MAS­SIVE search ef­fort has iden­ti­fied the pos­si­ble seabed lo­ca­tion of the crashed Lion Air jet, In­done­sia’s mil­i­tary chief said Wed­nes­day, as ex­perts carried out the grim task of iden­ti­fy­ing dozens of body parts re­cov­ered from a 15-nautical-mile-wide search area, and chilling video of pas­sen­gers board­ing the fa­tal flight emerged.

The 2-month-old Boe­ing plane plunged into the Java Sea on Mon­day just min­utes af­ter tak­ing off from Jakarta, killing all 189 peo­ple on board.

“This morn­ing I’ve been briefed by the head of Search and Res­cue Agency about the strong pos­si­bil­ity of the lo­ca­tion co­or­di­nates” of Flight 610, said armed forces chief Hadi Tjah­janto. “Hope­fully that is the main body of the plane that we’ve been look­ing for.”

Sep­a­rately, the head of the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Com­mit­tee, So­er­janto Tjahjono, told re­porters that pings de­tected by search teams are def­i­nitely from the air­craft’s flight recorder be­cause of their reg­u­lar in­ter­vals.

The dis­as­ter has reignited con­cerns about safety in In­done­sia’s fast­grow­ing avi­a­tion in­dus­try, which was re­cently re­moved from Euro­pean Union and US black­lists, and also raised doubts about the safety of Boe­ing’s new gen­er­a­tion 737 MAX 8 plane.

Boe­ing Co. ex­perts were ex­pected to ar­rive in In­done­sia on Wed­nes­day, and Lion Air has said an “in­tense” in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der­way in ad­di­tion to the probe by safety reg­u­la­tors.

Navy of­fi­cer Haris Djoko Nu­groho said the 22-me­tre-long ob­ject that could be part of the fuse­lage is at a depth of 32m. He said divers will be de­ployed af­ter side-scan sonar has pro­duced more de­tailed im­ages. He said it was first lo­cated on Tues­day evening.

“There are some small ob­jects that we found, but last night, thank God, we found a large enough ob­ject,” he said.

Data from flight-track­ing sites show the plane had er­ratic speed and al­ti­tude in the early min­utes of a flight on Sun­day and on its fa­tal flight Mon­day. Safety ex­perts cau­tion, how­ever, that the data must be checked for ac­cu­racy against the plane’s black boxes, which of­fi­cials are con­fi­dent will be re­cov­ered.

Sev­eral pas­sen­gers on the Sun­day flight from Bali to Jakarta have re­counted prob­lems that in­cluded a long-de­layed take­off for an en­gine check and ter­ri­fy­ing de­scents in the first 10 min­utes in the air.

Two in­ter­viewed on In­done­sian TV re­called de­tails such as a strange en­gine sound, a smell of burnt ca­bles, and pan­icked pas­sen­gers cry­ing out for God to save them as the plane rapidly lost al­ti­tude. Later in the flight, a man who was ei­ther the cap­tain or first of­fi­cer walked through the plane and re­turned to the cock­pit with what looked like a large man­ual.

Lion Air has said main­te­nance was carried out on the air­craft af­ter the Sun­day flight and a prob­lem, which it didn’t spec­ify, was fixed.

Of­fi­cials said searchers have sent 48 body bags con­tain­ing hu­man re­mains to po­lice iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ex­perts.

An­guished fam­ily mem­bers have been pro­vid­ing sam­ples for DNA tests and po­lice say re­sults are ex­pected within 4-8 days.

Musyafak, the head of Said Sukanto Po­lice Hos­pi­tal, said nearly 150 sam­ples for test­ing have been col­lected but more are still needed, es­pe­cially from par­ents and chil­dren of vic­tims.

In­done­sian TV broad­cast a smart­phone video of pas­sen­gers board­ing Flight 610, its mun­dane de­tails trans­formed into un­set­tling mo­ments by knowl­edge of the tragedy that would tran­spire. – As­so­ci­ated Press

Photo: Bloomberg

Search and res­cue team mem­bers carry a body re­cov­ered from the crash of Lion Air flight 610, at Tan­jung Priok port in Jakarta, In­done­sia, on Mon­day.

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