dpa/GNA – Divers were deployed on Monday to look for flight recorders from a passenger plane that crashed into the Java Sea minutes after it took off from Jakarta airport with 62 people on board, the Indonesian navy said.
Searchers have already recovered pieces of the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 aircraft, including one of its engine turbines, and body parts after the accident on Saturday.
The military said Sunday that two signals from the aircraft’s black boxes – which consist of a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder – had been picked up and located.
“This morning our divers began working in the area,” said naval officer Vice Admiral Abdul Rasyid on Monday.
“We are clearing the pieces of (aircraft) debris that are getting in the way. They are sharp and could endanger the divers,” he added.
Data from the recorders could help crash investigators to shed light on the cause of the accident.
The naval search team late Sunday retrieved one of the aircraft’s mangled turbines, Major Orri Ronsumbre said.
The domestic flight had been en route to Pontianak on Borneo island in what was supposed to be a 90-minute journey when it went missing on Saturday afternoon.
The cause of the crash is not known, but data from the Swedish internet service Flightradar24 showed the plane suddenly slowed down and rapidly lost altitude just after take-off.
The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said 2,600 personnel, 53 vessels and 14 aircraft were involved in the search.
At least 16 bags of human remains had been collected so far, it said.
Asked about chances of finding survivors, Basarnas operations director Rasman said: “Let’s pray for the best.”
Sriwijaya Air said the flight was delayed for 30 minutes because of poor weather.
The mother of one of the passengers on the aircraft said she had urged his son to delay returning to Pontianak, where he worked on a barge transporting coal barge.
The passenger, Angga Fernando Afriyon, had taken a leave to be with his wife who gave birth to their first child in Jakarta last week.
“I told him not to return just yet because I was worried about his wife and the baby,” said Afrida.
The crash is the third second involving an Indonesian budget airline since 2014.
An AirAsia Indonesia flight carrying 162 people crashed into the Java Sea off Borneo island shortly after take-off on 28 December 2014 with no survivors.
In October 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX belonging to Indonesia’s largest budget carrier Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.
Indonesia, which is made up of thousands of islands, experienced a boom in low-cost carriers following the liberalization of the aviation industry in the early 2000s.
In 2018, the European Union lifted a ban on Indonesian airlines, which was imposed in 2007 following a string of deadly air accidents.
Several Indonesian airlines, including flag carrier Garuda, were taken off the EU’s ban list in 2009 after steps were taken to improve safety.
In 2017, the International Civil Aviation Organization ranked Indonesia’s aviation safety as above global average, with a compliance rate of 81.15 per cent.