Divers recover black box from crashed Indonesian jet


Indonesian navy divers today found a black box from the crashed passenger jet which plunged into the Java Sea three days ago with 62 people on board. 

The Boeing 737’s flight data recorder was found on Tuesday with authorities saying it will take two to five days to extract the information on it as they try to explain how the aircraft fell 10,000ft in less than a minute. 

Divers are still looking for the cockpit voice recorder, the other of the two black boxes, with military chief Hadi Tjahjanto saying today that he was confident it would be found soon.

It came as Indonesia’s transport ministry revealed that the Sriwijaya Air jet had passed an airworthiness inspection last month, having been grounded between March and December because of the pandemic. 

Found: Indonesian navy divers pose with the flight data recorder – one of the two so-called black boxes – recovered from the crash site where a Boeing 737 plunged into the Java Sea on Saturday with 62 people on board 

Search and rescue: Emergency workers sit on a rubber boat during the recovery operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight which crashed on Saturday shortly after takeoff from Jakarta

Search and rescue: Emergency workers sit on a rubber boat during the recovery operation for the Sriwijaya Air flight which crashed on Saturday shortly after takeoff from Jakarta 

Debris: Members of the Indonesian Red Cross spray disinfectant over items recovered from the crash site on Tuesday

Debris: Members of the Indonesian Red Cross spray disinfectant over items recovered from the crash site on Tuesday 

Under lock and key: The black box was put in this chest for safekeeping with authorities saying it will take two to five days to extract information from it - as divers continue to search for the cockpit voice recorder

Under lock and key: The black box was put in this chest for safekeeping with authorities saying it will take two to five days to extract information from it – as divers continue to search for the cockpit voice recorder 

The Boeing 737-500 passed its inspection on December 14, flew five days later with no passengers and then resumed commercial flights on December 22, the transport ministry said. 

Initial findings by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) showed a jet engine was running when it hit the water, based on damage seen on parts retrieved from the sea.

‘The damage on the fan blade showed that the engine was still working on impact,’ KNKT chief Soerjanto Tjahjono said – ruling out a mid-air break-up as the explanation for Saturday’s disaster. 

‘This is consistent with the hypothesis that the plane’s system was still working at an altitude of 250ft,’ he said, noting the plane was transmitting data at that altitude. 

The flight data recorder was found after a navy ship picked up pings being emitted by the black boxes, at least one of which was buried in seabed mud under tons of sharp objects in the wreckage. 

Actually coloured bright orange, the boxes are built to survive at vast depths and in extreme heat, and are fitted with a beacon which can emit a signal for one month. 

Navy chief admiral Yudo Margono said at least 160 divers were searching for the devices on Tuesday, while more than 3,600 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small boats also search the area. 

Rescuers have found parts of the plane and human remains at a depth of around 75ft after the plane crashed within four minutes of takeoff from Jakarta.   

So far, the searchers have sent 74 body bags containing human remains to police identification experts who on Monday said they had identified 29-year-old flight attendant Okky Bisma as one of the victims.

His wife, Aldha Refa, who is also a flight attendant for Sriwijaya Air, shared her grief in a series of posts on social media.

‘My husband is a loving, devout and super kind man,’ she wrote on Instagram. ‘Heaven is your place, dear … be peaceful there.’

The Indonesian navy vessel KRI Semarang looms over rescue boats piloted by navy divers and other rescue workers today

The Indonesian navy vessel KRI Semarang looms over rescue boats piloted by navy divers and other rescue workers today 

A rescue worker wearing a mask holds a piece of wreckage after the Boeing 737 came down in less than a minute on Saturday

A rescue worker wearing a mask holds a piece of wreckage after the Boeing 737 came down in less than a minute on Saturday

Navy divers stand on a rubber boat during the search and rescue operation, as it emerged that the plane had passed an airworthiness inspection only weeks before the catastrophe

Navy divers stand on a rubber boat during the search and rescue operation, as it emerged that the plane had passed an airworthiness inspection only weeks before the catastrophe 

Indonesian rescue workers move a plastic container carrying one of the black boxes off their rubber boat in waters off Jakarta

Indonesian rescue workers move a plastic container carrying one of the black boxes off their rubber boat in waters off Jakarta

Family members have been providing samples for DNA tests and police say results are expected in four to eight days.

A child’s Marvel backpack was among the items found by the search team as they sifted through the wreckage from the plane which had plunged 10,000ft in a minute before the crash.  

National Police spokesman Rusdi Hartono said about 53 samples for DNA testing have been collected but more are still needed, especially from parents and children of victims.   

All 62 passengers and crew aboard the flight were Indonesian, including seven children and three babies.

The plane’s captain, Afwan, a 54-year-old father of three, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was a former air force pilot with decades of flying under his belt.

His nephew Ferza Mahardhika told BBC Indonesia that the pilot had left home quickly on the day of the flight, complaining that ‘his shirt hadn’t been ironed, when usually he is really neat’.

Afwan also apologised to his children for having to leave home to board the doomed flight.

Ferza Mahardhika said: ‘He was a very good man. He often gave advice, wise advice. He was a prominent figure in his neighbourhood and was well-known for his kindness.’  

Indonesian divers scouring the Java Sea for the wreckage of the plane which crashed on Saturday have found a huge amount of debris and passenger belongings

Indonesian divers scouring the Java Sea for the wreckage of the plane which crashed on Saturday have found a huge amount of debris and passenger belongings

A child's Marvel backpack was among the distressing items found by the search team as they sifted through the wreckage

A child’s Marvel backpack was among the distressing items found by the search team as they sifted through the wreckage

Underwater footage of their rescue mission shows the divers examining the huge amount of debris from the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500

Underwater footage of their rescue mission shows the divers examining the huge amount of debris from the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500

Shrapnel from the Sriwijaya Air plane was lifted from the crash site around the Thousand Islands as investigators say the jet was likely intact when it smashed into the water

Shrapnel from the Sriwijaya Air plane was lifted from the crash site around the Thousand Islands as investigators say the jet was likely intact when it smashed into the water

Health workers spray disinfectant over body bags containing human remains recovered from the crash site of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 at the port in Jakarta on January 10

Health workers spray disinfectant over body bags containing human remains recovered from the crash site of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 at the port in Jakarta on January 10

The plane - a Boeing B737-500 - is understood to have fallen 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after it took off

The plane – a Boeing B737-500 – is understood to have fallen 10,000 feet in less than 60 seconds just four minutes after it took off

Another passenger, Ratih Windania, posted a selfie with her three children laughing as the family boarded the plane from the Indonesian capital. She said: ‘Bye bye family. We’re heading home for now.’  

Her brother Irfansyah Riyanto said the family were originally planning to take a different flight but they changed at the last minute. ‘Pray for us,’ he wrote on Instagram.   

His sister and her two children had been at the end of a three-week holiday and were taking the 460 mile trip home to Pontianak on the island of West Kalimantan.

‘I was the one who drove them to the airport, helped with the check-ins and the luggage … I feel like I still can’t believe this and it happened too fast,’ Irfansyah said.

Rapin Akbar, who gave a blood sample to the hospital to help police identify any bodies retrieved, had five relatives on board including an older sister, a nephew and his wife and their seven-month-old baby. 

‘(My nephew) had planned to go back to Pontianak on Sunday but changed his mind and decided to fly on Saturday instead,’ the shocked Akbar told AFP.

‘He called me to say the flight was delayed and sent me a picture of their baby. It was (their) first.’

At the police hospital, the brother of co-pilot Diego Mamahit said he had been asked for a blood sample.

‘I believe my younger brother survived, these are just for the police procedure,’ Chris Mamahit said. ‘Diego is a good man, we still believe Diego survived.’

On his LinkedIn profile, Mahamit had written ‘I really love to fly.’  

Underwater divers were searching for the plane's black boxes which will help explain why the jet plunged so quickly

Underwater divers were searching for the plane’s black boxes which will help explain why the jet plunged so quickly

An investigator with Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said the jet possibly broke apart when it hit waters based on debris found so far

An investigator with Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said the jet possibly broke apart when it hit waters based on debris found so far

Investigators have so far been unable to say why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after takeoff from Jakarta

Investigators have so far been unable to say why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after takeoff from Jakarta

The plane's captain, Afwan, a 54-year-old father of three, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was a former air force pilot with decades of flying under his belt

The plane’s captain, Afwan, a 54-year-old father of three, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was a former air force pilot with decades of flying under his belt

Ratih Windania posted a selfie with her three children laughing as they boarded a plane in Indonesia on Saturday in a heartbreaking final message

Ratih Windania posted a selfie with her three children laughing as they boarded a plane in Indonesia on Saturday in a heartbreaking final message

The family's final message was sent just before they boarded the plane from the Indonesian capital after a three-week holiday

The family’s final message was sent just before they boarded the plane from the Indonesian capital after a three-week holiday

They were originally planning to take a different flight but they changed at the last minute

They were originally planning to take a different flight but they changed at the last minute

Irfansyah said his relatives (pictured at the airport) had originally been due to take an earlier flight operated by Sriwijaya's unit NAM Air and he was unclear why that was changed

Irfansyah said his relatives (pictured at the airport) had originally been due to take an earlier flight operated by Sriwijaya’s unit NAM Air and he was unclear why that was changed

Also on board was Dinda Amelia, who had gone to Jakarta on holiday for her 15th birthday, seaman Angga Fernanda Afrion who became a father for the first time last week, and newly-married couple Ihsan Adhlan Hakim and Putri Wahyuni.

Agus Minarni and Muhammad Nur Kholifatul Amin travelled to Jakarta to attend the funeral of Amin’s father and visit their son at boarding school.

A family of five is also missing from the flight, with Rizki Wahyudi, 26, his wife Indah Halimah Putri, also 26, their 7-month-old son, and Wahyudi’s mother and cousin all on board the flight.

They were due to fly home on January 5 but were made to take a Covid test which delayed their flight until Saturday.

Minarni’s brother Yudiansyah Yunus said he will now take care of the couple’s orphaned teenage children. 

Father and businessman Yohanes Suherdi is also feared dead after he took a work trip to Jakarta and was due to fly back to his family.

His wife Susilawati Bungahilaria told CNN she spoke with him shortly before take off.

‘His last message to me was not to forget to take our son to see a doctor because he had a fever,’ she said.   

Indonesian Navy sailors are seen on the KRI Semarang as it is docking and preparing to continue rescue process for  Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182

Indonesian Navy sailors are seen on the KRI Semarang as it is docking and preparing to continue rescue process for  Sriwijaya Air flight SJ 182

A health worker sprays disinfectant at a large part of a plane recovered from the waters off Java Island where Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 crashed on Saturday, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia

A health worker sprays disinfectant at a large part of a plane recovered from the waters off Java Island where Sriwijaya Air flight SJ-182 crashed on Saturday, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia

Rescuers have discovered body parts and pieces of clothing during a desperate search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182

Rescuers have discovered body parts and pieces of clothing during a desperate search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182

Indonesian rescue members check a body bag as a huge team continues their search to find wreckage and passengers

Indonesian rescue members check a body bag as a huge team continues their search to find wreckage and passengers

Officials are seen inspecting one of the engines recovered from the crash of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ18

Officials are seen inspecting one of the engines recovered from the crash of Sriwijaya Air flight SJ18

A fisherman named Solihin told the BBC that he had been at sea when he witnessed the plane crash into the water near to his ship.

‘The plane fell like lightning into the sea and exploded in the water. It was pretty close to us, the shards of a kind of plywood almost hit my ship.

‘We thought it was a bomb or a tsunami since after that we saw the big splash from the water.

‘It was raining heavily and the weather was so bad… We were very shocked and directly saw the plane debris and the fuel around our boat.’  

Locals on a nearby island said they heard two explosions before discovering metal pieces, cables and fragments of a pair of jeans floating in the sea.  

President Joko Widodo offered sympathy to all of the victims on Sunday.

‘We are making our best efforts to find and rescue the victims and we all pray that they can be found,’ he said. 

The missing plane is an older model than the Boeing 737 MAX jet involved in two earlier fatal crashes – including the Indonesian Lion Air crash in 2018 which killed 189. 

That accident – and another in Ethiopia – saw Boeing hit with $2.5 billion in fines over claims it defrauded regulators overseeing the 737 MAX model, which was grounded worldwide following the accidents. 

Sriwijaya Air, which flies to destinations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, has said little about the plane, which was previously flown by US-based Continental Airlines and United Airlines.

The Indonesian carrier has not recorded a fatal crash since it started operations in 2003.

Rescuers are seen bringing up one of the engines. At 2.40pm - just four minutes after takeoff - the Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 10,000ft in less than 60 seconds

Rescuers are seen bringing up one of the engines. At 2.40pm – just four minutes after takeoff – the Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 10,000ft in less than 60 seconds

Navy divers are seen retrieving wreckage from the aircraft. Police asked families to provide information to help identify any bodies retrieved such as dental records and DNA samples

Navy divers are seen retrieving wreckage from the aircraft. Police asked families to provide information to help identify any bodies retrieved such as dental records and DNA samples

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi on Sunday said authorities launched a widespread search for the Boeing 737-500 after narrowing down 'the possible location of the crash site'

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi on Sunday said authorities launched a widespread search for the Boeing 737-500 after narrowing down ‘the possible location of the crash site’

The Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 3,300 metres in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 75 metres. Pictured: debris discovered in the ocean

The Boeing B737-500 plunged nearly 3,300 metres in less than 60 seconds to an altitude of just 75 metres. Pictured: debris discovered in the ocean 

Navy divers pull out a part of an airplane out of the water during the search operation for the Sriwijaya Air passenger jet

Navy divers pull out a part of an airplane out of the water during the search operation for the Sriwijaya Air passenger jet

A medical officer sprays disinfectant onto the washed up debris as rescuers desperately search for survivors

A medical officer sprays disinfectant onto the washed up debris as rescuers desperately search for survivors

The National Search and Rescue Agency of Indonesia (BASARNAS) conduct a search and rescue operation

The National Search and Rescue Agency of Indonesia (BASARNAS) conduct a search and rescue operation

A plane flies over Indonesian search and rescue teams scattered in several points as they look for debris

A plane flies over Indonesian search and rescue teams scattered in several points as they look for debris

Police asked families to provide information to help identify any bodies retrieved such as dental records and DNA samples

Police asked families to provide information to help identify any bodies retrieved such as dental records and DNA samples

These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island, National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito said

These pieces were found by the SAR team between Lancang Island and Laki Island, National Search and Rescue Agency Bagus Puruhito said

Indonesian search and rescue officers inspect a bag with wreckage believed to be of the missing plane at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia

 Indonesian search and rescue officers inspect a bag with wreckage believed to be of the missing plane at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia

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