Family members of a passenger react at a hospital after the plane crashed into the sea off the Jakarta coast, in Indonesia. Reuters
Indonesia on Wednesday temporarily suspended a search by divers for the cockpit voice recorder of a Sriwijaya Air that crashed with 62 people on board shortly after takeoff.
The search in the Java Sea had to be halted due to bad weather that whipped up waves of up to 2.5 metres (8.2 feet) in height, officials said.
Earlier on Wednesday, divers retrieved more debris and a damaged Identity card of one of the victims, Navy official Abdul Rasyid told reporters on board the Indonesian navy ship Rigel.
Divers retrieved the plane’s flight data recorder (FDR) from the seabed on Tuesday and officials said they had also found the beacon that was attached to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR).
A remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROV) will be deployed to scour the seabed on Wednesday, Abdul said, adding that the search had been made more complicated because no pings were now being emitted after the beacon detached from the CVR.
“We have the ROV that will confirm the location again and tomorrow we will dive and comb that location again,” he said.
Military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said on Tuesday he had “high confidence” of finding the recorder soon.
Indonesian navy divers recover crashed plane's data recorder
Indonesian mother posts final ‘Bye bye family. We're heading home for now’ before Sriwijaya plane crash
The Boeing 737-500 jet crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday four minutes after takeoff from Jakarta’s main airport.
Investigators will rely heavily on the two black boxes to determine the cause of the crash.
Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) expects to download the FDR data within two to five days.
The FDR contains about 25 hours of data on eight tracks and the CVR has 30 minutes of conversation, according to the final report on a similar model of a Boeing 737 which crashed in 2008.
A team from the US National Transportation Safety Board will be traveling to Jakarta in coming days to help with the investigation.
The KNKT’s initial findings showed the plane’s engine was running when it hit the water, based on the damage seen on jet parts retrieved from the sea.
Indonesia’s transport ministry said on Tuesday the plane, which was grounded during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, had passed an airworthiness inspection on Dec.14 and had returned to service shortly after.
The 4,132 search and rescue personnel are supported by 14 airplanes, 62 ships and 21 raft boats. They are using an underwater metal detector and remotely operated vehicle to find human remains, the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and more wreckage.
More than 820 people were injured and about 15,000 people have been evacuated, the agency said. Some have sought refuge in the mountains, while others went to cramped evacuation centres, witnesses said.
Windania arrived at the airport and recorded a message not knowing it was her final message to the family, saying "Bye bye family. We're heading home for now."
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