Divers recover ‘black box’ from crashed Indonesian plane

Jakarta: Indonesian navy divers searching the ocean floor on Tuesday have recovered a "black box" from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea over the weekend with 62 people on board.

The recording device was being transported to Jakarta's port, spokesman Fajar Tri Rohadi told Reuters.

An Indonesian Navy plane surveys the wreckage of the crashed Sriwijaya Air passenger jet in the Java Sea.Credit:AP

It wasn't immediately clear whether the device was the plane’s flight data or cockpit voice recorder.

The recovery is expected to help investigators determine what caused the Boeing 737-500 plane to nosedive into the ocean in heavy rain shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Saturday.

TV stations showed divers on an inflatable vessel with a large white container containing the device heading to a Jakarta port. It will be handed over to the National Transportation Safety Committee, which is overseeing the crash investigation.

A navy ship earlier picked up intense pings being emitted from the two recorders. They were buried in seabed mud under tons of sharp objects in the wreckage, the Indonesian navy's Chief Admiral Yudo Margono said.

He said at least 160 divers were deployed Tuesday in the search for the devices.

More than 3,600 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small boats were searching the area just north of Jakarta where Flight 182 crashed. Parts of the plane and human remains have already been found in the water at a depth of 23 metres.

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

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.”

Anguished family members have been providing samples for DNA tests and police said results were expected within four to eight days.

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

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee said the US National Transportation Safety Board would help to investigate the crash.

Indonesian authorities have been sorting through debris found in the Java Sea.Credit:Getty

In the past year, Indonesian aviation was affected significantly by the coronavirus pandemic that caused travel restrictions and a slump in demand among travelers.

Sriwijaya Air has had only minor safety incidents in the past, though a farmer was killed in 2008 when a plane went off the runway while landing due to a hydraulic issue.

In 2018, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet operated by Lion Air crashed, killing 189 people. An automated flight-control system played a role in that crash, but the Sriwijaya Air jet did not have that system on board.

AP with Reuters

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