Divers lo­cate jet fuse­lage, search for 2nd black box

San Francisco Chronicle (Sunday) - - WORLD - By Andi Jat­miko Andi Jat­miko is an As­so­ci­ated Press writer.

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Divers re­ported see­ing the fuse­lage of the crashed Lion Air jet on the seafloor and a ping lo­ca­tor has de­tected a sig­nal that may be from the cock­pit voice recorder, Indonesia’s search and res­cue chief said Satur­day.

Speak­ing on the sixth day of the search, Muham­mad Syaugi also said two en­gines and more land­ing gear had been found. The plane crashed in wa­ters 98 feet deep but strong cur­rents have ham­pered the search.

“I haven’t seen it my­self but I got in­for­ma­tion from some divers that they have seen the fuse­lage,” he said at a Jakarta port where body bags, de­bris and pas­sen­ger be­long­ings are first taken.

The brand new Boe­ing 737 Max 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea just min­utes af­ter take­off from Jakarta early on Oct. 29, killing all 189 peo­ple on board. Lo­cal me­dia re­ported Satur­day that the search ef­fort had killed a diver Fri­day evening.

The flight data recorder was re­cov­ered on Thurs­day and Syaugi said a “low ping sig­nal” was de­tected by a sonar lo­ca­tor that could be the black box voice recorder. Divers and a re­motely op­er­ated ve­hi­cle have been search­ing the lo­ca­tion since Satur­day morn­ing.

Flight track­ing web­sites show the plane had er­ratic speed and alti­tude dur­ing its 13-minute flight Mon­day and a pre­vi­ous flight last Sun­day from Bali to Jakarta. Pas­sen­gers on last Sun­day’s flight re­ported ter­ri­fy­ing de­scents and in both cases the dif­fer­ent cock­pit crews re­quested to re­turn to their de­par­ture air­port shortly af­ter take­off.

Lion has claimed a tech­ni­cal prob­lem was fixed af­ter last Sun­day’s fight. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are still at­tempt­ing to re­trieve in­for­ma­tion from the flight data recorder’s “crash sur­viv­able mem­ory unit” that will help de­ter­mine the cause of the dis­as­ter. It has been dam­aged and re­quires spe­cial han­dling, they say.

The Lion Air crash is the worst air­line dis­as­ter in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 peo­ple died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In De­cem­ber 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Sin­ga­pore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

In­done­sian air­lines were barred in 2007 from fly­ing to Europe be­cause of safety con­cerns, though sev­eral were al­lowed to re­sume ser­vices in the fol­low­ing decade. The ban was com­pletely lifted in June. The U.S. lifted a decade­long ban in 2016.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest air­lines but has grown rapidly, fly­ing to dozens of do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional des­ti­na­tions.

Azwar Ipank / AFP / Getty Images

A por­tion of an en­gine from the Lion Air flight is among de­bris re­cov­ered from the jet­liner that crashed just min­utes af­ter take­off from Jakarta early Mon­day, killing all 189 peo­ple on board.

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