62 dead in Indonesia plane crash

Divers pulled body parts, wreckage and clothing from waters off Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Sunday, as the military picked up a signal from the wreckage of a passenger jet that crashed with 62 people on board.

The Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 went into a steep dive about four minutes after it left Soekarno-Hatta international airport in Jakarta on Saturday afternoon.

SEA TRAGEDY Indonesian divers pull a debris found near Lancang Island on Jan. 10, 2021. AFP PHOTO

Authorities have pinpointed the location of two black boxes, referring to cockpit voice and flight data recorders that could help explain why the aircraft went down.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo expressed his “deep condolences” and called on citizens to “pray together so that victims can be found.”

But the frantic search involving helicopters and a flotilla of warships appeared to offer no hope of finding any survivors.

The search and rescue agency said it had so far collected five body bags with human remains as well as debris from the crash site.

A child’s pink clothing, a broken tire and wheel, life jackets and wreckage from the plane were found, according to authorities and Agence France-Presse reporters on the scene.

Among the passengers was Beben Sofian, 59, and her husband Dan Razanah, 58.

“They took a selfie and sent it to their kids before taking off,” the couple’s nephew Hendra said.

All 62 people on board, passengers and crew, were Indonesians, including 10 children, authorities said.

‘Torn into pieces’
Flight SJ182 was bound for Pontianak city on Indonesia’s section of Borneo Island, about 90 minutes flying time over the Java Sea.

On Saturday night, distraught relatives waited nervously for news at Pontianak airport.

“I have four family members on the flight — my wife and three children,” Yaman Zai said as he sobbed. “[My wife] sent me a picture of the baby today… How could my heart not be torn into pieces?”

The plane crashed near popular day-trip islands just off the coast.

Data from FlightRadar24 indicated that the airliner reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) before dropping suddenly to 250 feet. It then lost contact with air traffic control.

The transport minister on Saturday said the jet appeared to deviate from its intended course just before it disappeared from radar.

Poor weather, pilot error or a technical problem with the plane were potential factors, said Jakarta-based aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman.

Indonesia’s aviation sector has long had a reputation for poor safety, and its airlines were once banned from entering United States and European airspace.

In 2014, an Indonesia AirAsia plane headed from Surabaya to Singapore crashed with the loss of 162 lives.

In 2015, more than 140 people, including scores on the ground, were killed when a military plane crashed shortly after take-off in Medan on Sumatra Island. AFP

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