Indonesia Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 black boxes located

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Black boxes of a passenger plane which crashed in the sea soon after take-off from Jakarta, Indonesia on Saturday have been located, officials say.

A small flotilla of ships has been searching the site and navy divers should soon be able to retrieve the two flight recorders, they add.

Aircraft parts and human remains have been found.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737 was carrying 62 people when it vanished from radar on its journey to Borneo.

“We have located the position of the black boxes, both of them,” said Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee.

“Divers will start looking for them now and hopefully it won’t be long before we get them.”

Investigators are analysing items which they believe to be a wheel and part of the plane’s fuselage.

BBC South-East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head says the sea in this part of Indonesia is relatively shallow and the bad weather which had been hampering rescue operations has now improved, making it more likely significant parts can be recovered.

However, the search appears to offer no hope of finding any survivors.

A spokesman for the Jakarta police, Yusri Yunus, said two bags had been received from the search and rescue agency.

“The first bag contained passengers’ properties, another bag contained body parts,” he told reporters, adding: “We are still identifying these findings.”

Indonesian search and rescue officers inspect a bag with wreckage believed to be of the missing Sriwijaya Air plane, at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, 10 January 2021
image captionIndonesian investigators inspect an item they believe could belong to the missing plane

Search and rescue efforts were suspended overnight but resumed early on Sunday. Four planes have also been deployed to help with the search.

Ships pictured during a search for the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 near Jakarta, Indonesia
image captionTeams of divers have been deployed to the area believed to be the site of the crash

The missing aircraft is not a 737 Max, the Boeing model that was grounded from March 2019 until last December following two deadly crashes.

What happened to the aircraft?

The Sriwijaya Air passenger plane departed from Jakarta airport at 14:36 local time (07:36 GMT) on Saturday.

Minutes later, at 14:40, the last contact with the plane was recorded, with the call sign SJY182, according to the transport ministry.

The usual flight time to Pontianak, in West Kalimantan province in the west of the island of Borneo, is 90 minutes.

The aircraft did not send a distress signal, according to the head of national search and rescue agency Air Marshal Bagus Puruhito.

It is thought to have dropped more than 3,000m (10,000ft) in less than a minute, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24.com.

Witnesses said they had seen and heard at least one explosion.

Indonesia map

Who was on board the flight?

There were thought to be 50 passengers – including seven children and three babies – and 12 crew on board, though the plane has a capacity of 130. Everyone on board was Indonesian, officials say.

Relatives of the passengers have been waiting anxiously at the airport in Pontianak, as well as at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

Family members of Sriwijaya Air plane passengers wait for news at Pontianak airport, Indonesia 9 January 2021
image captionFamily members of missing passengers wait for news at Pontianak airport, Indonesia

“I have four family members on the flight – my wife and my three children,” Yaman Zai told reporters through tears.

“[My wife] sent me a picture of the baby today… How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”

What do we know about the plane?

According to registration details, the plane was a 26-year-old Boeing 737-500.

It was in good condition, Sriwijaya Air chief executive Jefferson Irwin Jauwena told reporters. Take-off had been delayed for 30 minutes due to heavy rain, he said.

Sriwijaya Air, founded in 2003, is a local budget airline which flies to Indonesian and other South-East Asian destinations.

The plane that is believed crashed, the Sriwijaya Air flight 182 (registration PK-CLC) PK-CLC
image captionThe Sriwijaya Air plane disappeared from radar screens shortly after take-off (file photo)

The plane went missing about 20km (12 miles) north of the capital Jakarta, not far from where another flight crashed in October 2018.

A total of 189 died when an Indonesian Lion Air flight plunged into the sea about 12 minutes after take-off from the city.

That disaster was blamed on a series of failures in the plane’s design, but also faults by the airline and the pilots.

It was one of two crashes that led regulators to pull the Boeing 737 Max from service. The model resumed passenger flights in December after a systems overhaul.

The BBC’s Jerome Wirawan in Jakarta says the latest events will bring up difficult questions and emotions in Indonesia, whose airline industry has faced intense scrutiny since the Lion Air crash.

BBC

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