JAKARTA (INDONESIA) – Indonesian navy divers combing through the sea bed were closing in on data recorders from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java sea two days ago.
Flight SJ 182 had 12 crew and 50 passengers on board, all Indonesians and including 10 children. It was reported that it lost contact minutes after take off from Jakarta’s main airport.
The Boeing 737-500 jet was headed on a domestic flight to Pontianak on Borneo island, about 740 km (460 miles) from Jakarta, before it disappeared from radar screens.
Tracking service Flightradar24 said the aircraft took off at 2:36 p.m. local time (0736 GMT) and climbed to 10,900 feet within four minutes. It then began a steep descent and stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.
With no hopes of finding survivors, authorities also said that there would be a focus on recovering the bodies of victims.
Divers had further narrowed down the search area strongly suspected to be the location of the black boxes, a Navy spokesman, Fajar Tri Rohadi said.
In order to help with identification, a police hospital has collected names, 40 DNA and other medical records samples from the relatives of victims.
The incident is the first major air crash in Indonesia since the 2018 Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crash that killed 189 passengers and crew. This flight too plunged into the Java Sea soon after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.
“The quicker we can find victims, the better,” search and rescue operation director Rasman MS told an earlier briefing, adding that the operation involved 2,600 personnel, 53 ships and aerial surveillance.
Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), told that since the debris appeared to have scattered in a relatively tight area underwater, the jet may have been intact before it hit the water.
He said KNKT had yet to speak to Sriwijaya Air’s management, but was collecting data on the plane and the pilots.
Rescuers have so far found one of the jet’s turbines, pieces of the plane’s tail, the rim of a wheel and an emergency chute, as well as clothing and personal belongings from passengers.
It was previously informed by the KNKT that the US National Transportation Safety Board and Boeing would be involved in the investigation.
In a statement during the weekend, Boeing said “We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time.”