Disasters & Accidents

Indonesia resumes search for crashed plane’s wreckage, victims

Jakarta, Jan 14 (efe-epa).- Rescue teams on Thursday resumed, amid adverse weather conditions, the search for one of the black boxes and the remains of the victims of the passenger aircraft that crashed in Indonesian waters on Saturday without any of the 62 people aboard surviving.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Basarnas, which had to temporarily suspend the search on Wednesday due to bad weather, said in a statement that operations are being hampered by rain and winds exceeding 37 kilometers per hour (23 miles per hour).

“The weather is a serious concern in the implementation of SAR (Search and rescue) operations today, especially for dive teams,” said Basarnas’ head, Bagus Puruhito, adding that the plane’s wreckage is spread over a large area.

Some 160 divers, assisted by dozens of ships and helicopters, are involved in the search at a depth of about 20 meters (66 feet) in waters off the coast of the Thousand Islands, an archipelago located just a few kilometers from the Indonesian capital.

The plane, a Boeing 737 registered in 1994, crashed into the Java Sea a few minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport en route to Pontianak, capital of West Borneo.

On Tuesday, divers were able to rescue from the seabed, more than 20 meters deep, one of the two black boxes of the plane, which records flight data such as speed and height.

Now they are focused on finding the other black box, which records conversations in the cockpit.

Black boxes are essential to determine the cause of the accident.

Meanwhile, work continues to identify the bodies of the victims with the analysis of some 60 bags containing human remains recovered from the scene of the accident and moved to a hospital in Jakarta.

DNA samples from families have helped identify four victims: two crew members aged 29 and 38 years and two passengers aged 36 and 50 years.

Indonesian authorities said Saturday afternoon that contact with the aircraft had been lost at 2.40 pm, some 13 minutes after takeoff and without the Emergency Locator Transmitter having issued any warning.

At the time, the plane had abruptly changed direction, prompting the control tower to ask the pilots what was happening when it suddenly disappeared from radar.

According to the flight log, there were 50 passengers on board, including three babies and seven other minors, and 12 crew members, all of them Indonesian nationality. EFE-EPA


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