Indonesian divers on Sunday located parts of the wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 at a depth of 23 meters (75 feet) in the Java Sea, a day after the plane with 62 people on board crashed from Jakarta shortly after takeoff.
“We received reports from the dive team that visibility in the water is good and clear, allowing some parts of the aircraft to be discovered,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said in a statement. “We are sure this is where the plane crashed.”
He said the objects were broken pieces of fuselage with aircraft registration parts.
Previously, rescuers pulled body parts, clothing and pieces of metal from the surface.
“Hopefully the current conditions and the view under the sea are still good until this afternoon so that we can continue searching,” he said.
The pause in the search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 came after sonar equipment on a naval vessel detected a signal from the aircraft at a location that matched the coordinates of the last contact the pilots made before the aircraft went missing on Saturday afternoon.
It is still unclear what caused the crash. There were no signs of survivors.
“I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my deepest condolences for this tragedy,” said President Joko Widodo.
“We are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together so that the victims can be found,” he said, adding that he had asked the National Transport Safety Committee to open an investigation.
Fishermen in the area between the islands of Lancang and Laki, part of an archipelago around Thousand Islands north of the coast of Jakarta, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 PM. Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami, because then we saw the big splash from the water,” Solihin, who has only one name, told The Associated Press by phone.
“It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad. So it’s hard to look around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the sounds. We were very shocked and immediately saw the airplane debris and fuel around our boat. . “
Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said flight SJ182 was delayed an hour before taking off at 2:36 PM. It disappeared from the radar four minutes later, after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 29,000 feet (8,839 meters), he said.
There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta about Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers and their families. We are in touch with our airline customer and are ready to support them in this difficult time.”
The authorities have set up two crisis centers, one at the airport and one in the port. Families gathered to wait for news about loved ones.
On social media, people started spreading the flight manifest with photos and videos of those listed as passengers. A video shows a woman waving goodbye with her children as she walks through the airport.
Sriwijaya Air Director Jefferson Irwin Jauwena said the plane, which is 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, was airworthy. He told reporters on Saturday that the plane had flown to Pontianak city and Pangkal Pinang earlier the same day.
“According to the maintenance report, everything went well and airworthy,” Jauwena told a press conference. He said the plane was delayed due to bad weather, not damage.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, is plagued by land, sea and air transport accidents due to overcrowding on ferries, outdated infrastructure and poorly maintained safety standards.
In October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight control system involved in the Lion Air crash and another crash of a 737 MAX 8 jet in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the grounding of the aircraft. MAX 8 for 20 months. .
The Lion Air crash was the biggest aviation disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda Airlines flight near Medan on the island of Sumatra. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore crashed into the sea, killing 162 people.
Sriwijaya Air has had only a few minor incidents in the past, although in 2008 a farmer was killed when the landing plane went off the runway due to a hydraulic problem.
The United States banned Indonesian airlines from operating in the country in 2007, but reversed the decision in 2016, citing improvements in line with international aviation standards. The European Union previously had similar bans and is lifting them in June 2018.