Navy divers show pieces of debris recovered off the northern coast of Jakarta on Tuesday. AFP
Indonesian navy divers searching the ocean floor on Tuesday recovered the flight data recorder from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea with 62 people on board.
The device is expected to help investigators determine what caused the Boeing 737-500 plane to nosedive into the ocean in heavy rain shortly after taking off from Jakarta on Saturday.
From L to R; Hadi Tjahjanto, Admiral Yudho Margono and other officials greet each other around the box containing the recovered flight data recorder. AP
TV stations showed divers on an inflatable vessel with a large white container containing the device heading to a Jakarta port.
Military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the plane’s other "black box,” the cockpit voice recorder, was likely to be found soon because its beacon was being emitted in the same area.
The devices were buried in seabed mud under tonnes of sharp objects in the plane's wreckage, navy Chief Adm. Yudo Margono said. He said at least 160 divers were deployed on Tuesday in the search.
Rubber boats carrying divers position themselves as the search for the wreckage of a crashed jet. AP
More than 3,600 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small boats are searching the area just north of Jakarta where Flight 182 crashed and have found parts of the plane and human remains in the water at a depth of 23 metres.
So far, the searchers have sent 74 body bags containing human remains to police identification experts who on Monday said they had identified their first victim, 29-year-old flight attendant Okky Bisma.
His wife, Aldha Refa, who is also a flight attendant for Sriwijaya Air, shared her grief in a series of posts on social media. "My husband is a loving, devout and super kind man,” she wrote on Instagram. "Heaven is your place, dear ... be peaceful there.”
Military Chief Hadi Tjahjono (C) examines debris of Sriwijaya Air flight. AFP
Anguished family members have been providing samples for DNA tests, and the National Police disaster victim identification unit said it has identified three more victims, including the co-pilot.
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said the US National Transportation Safety Board will join in investigating the crash.
The NTSC chairman, Soerjanto Tjahjono, ruled out a possible midair breakup after seeing the condition of the wreckage found by searchers. He said the jet was intact until it struck the water, concentrating the debris field, rather than spreading it out over a large area as would be seen with a midair event.
Tjahjono said the plane had continued to send altitude data until it descended to 250 feet (75 metres) above the water’s surface.
Navy members take pictures of a part of the retrieved black box of Sriwijaya Air flight. Reuters
The disaster has reignited concerns about safety in Indonesia’s aviation industry, which grew fast after the economy was opened following the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s.
Sriwijaya Air has had only minor safety incidents in the past, though a farmer was killed in 2008 when a plane went off the runway while landing due to a hydraulic issue.
In 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air crashed, killing 189 people. An automated flight-control system played a role in that crash, but the Sriwijaya Air jet did not have that system on board.
Police there took the suspect, identified as an off-duty Delta employee in his late 20s, into custody, reports said. His precise motive was unknown.
United Express flight was pulling away from a gate shortly after 7pm when the man unsuccessfully tried to breach the cockpit, then managed to open the service door and jumped down the emergency slide onto the tarmac, according to the airport and SkyWest.
Finding the boxes — cockpit voice and flight data recorders — could offer crucial clues as to why the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 plunged some 10,000 feet (3,000 metres) in less than a minute before slamming into the Java Sea.
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