JAKARTA: The Indonesian authorities have extended the search for the victims and the second black box of the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed into Java sea on October 29 with 189 on board.
"We have decided to extend the search operation for three more days beginning on Monday. Rescue teams have so far recovered 105 body bags and all of them are handed over to the police for identification. As of now only fourteen victims have been identified, I am sure the total will increase”, said Muhammad Syaugi, head of the search and rescue agency.
The disaster victim identification team has taken DNA samples from the families to help identify the victims
“The agency is prioritising recovering human remains and the cockpit voice recorder - the second black box. The divers had heard a "ping" from the second black box, although the sound is quite weak, they were yet to locate it. More than 100 divers are currently working for it in different zones”, he added.
According to the report, the second black box is thought to be around 50m from the main search area, where the water is only 30m deep, but ocean currents and mud on the seabed have complicated search efforts.
Earlier Navy divers have recovered one of the black boxes from the Lion Air plane on November 1 Thursday. The divers lifted the device from the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft onto their ship and they also found landing gear, the wheels and a large part of the body.
According to the report from National Transportation Safety Committee deputy chairperson Haryo Satmiko, the investigators had downloaded 69 hours of flight data from the first black box.
Meanwhile, a 48-year-old diver Syachrul Anto, who was part of the search and rescue agency had died on Saturday. Based on the report, Anto died from decompression.
"He was found by the Search and Rescue Team, unconscious, he was treated by our doctors and sent to the chamber for decompression, but we couldn’t save him”, said the officials
The Lion Air flight JT 610 was carrying 181 passengers, as well as six crewmembers and two pilots. It had been flying north from the capital, Jakarta, to the city of Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka when it went missing.
An official of Indonesia’s safety transport committee had said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, adding that it lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, want to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.
Yohanes Sirait, a spokesperson for the country’s air navigation authorities had said that the aircraft crew requested and received permission to turn around, then quickly lost contact. Investigators are looking into why the pilot had asked to return to base shortly after takeoff.
Danang Mandala Prihantoro, a Lion Air official, had said in a statement that the aircraft had been in service only since August.
The captain of the flight, Capt. Bhavye Suneja, had more than 6,000 flying hours and that the co-pilot, who goes by the single name of Harvino, had more than 5,000 flying hours.