Indonesia detects emergency signal of crashed passenger jet; find human parts, debris

Indonesian authorities found the location of the crashed Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 passenger flight SJ182 that disappeared shortly after take off from capital Jakarta.

The jet was carrying 62 people when it disappeared from radar four minutes into its journey to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.

On Sunday, signals thought to be from the jet’s flight recorder were traced. 10 ships have been deployed with navy divers at the site.

“We have detected signals in two points, this could be the black box,” Bagus Puruhito, the chief of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said.

Investigators are also analysing items they believe to be wreckage from the aircraft, including a wheel and what they say could be part of the plane’s fuselage.

A spokesman for the Jakarta police, Yusri Yunus, said two bags had been received from the search and rescue agency.

“The first bag contained passengers’ properties, another bag contained body parts,” he told reporters, adding: “We are still identifying these findings.”

Search and rescue efforts were suspended overnight but resumed early on Sunday. Four planes have also been deployed to help with the search.

What we know so far?

Indonesian Navy official Wahyudin Arif told iNEWS that they have found suspected pieces of the plane fuselage of about one metre in length, part of a tyre and human body parts.

Debris believed to belong to the Sriwijaya Air flight

Media reports said body parts had been taken to a police hospital for identification.

Search teams and fishermen earlier retrieved other debris and a section of an emergency chute believed to come from the jet in the seas off Jakarta.

Muhammad Yassin, director of the POLAIR marine police, told local media the search is focussing on the outer ring of the Laki and Lancang islands off the Jakarta coast. The sea in this area is about 20 to 23 metres deep.

A diver involved in the search and rescue operation told Kompas TV his team had an underwater metal detector and a pinger locator to pick up signals for the plane’s two black boxes.

Debris believed to belong to the Sriwijaya Air flight (Image: Reuters)

The Indonesian meteorological agency warned of a risk of heavy rain and strong winds that could hamper the search and rescue efforts.

What happened?

The flight had 50 passengers and 12 crew on board, though the plane has a capacity of 130. Everyone on board was Indonesian.

The plane lost contact at 14:40 local time on Saturday, four minutes after take off from Jakarta. It was en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan province.

The usual flight time to Pontianak is an hour-and-a-half. It was raining at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport when the plane took off.

Flight tracking website said the aircraft had lost more than 3,000m (10,000ft) in altitude in less than a minute.

Witnesses said they had seen and heard at least one explosion.

Fisherman Solihin said: “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.”

Flight SJ182 flight path (Image: Twitter/flightradar24)
Flight data moments to the crash (Image: Twitter/flightradar24)

The jet involved was nearly 27-year-old Boeing 737-500 was much older than Boeing’s problem-plagued 737 MAX model, one of which crashed off Jakarta in late 2018, killing all 189 people aboard the Lion Air flight. Older 737 models are widely flown and do not have the system implicated in the MAX safety crisis.

The Boeing 737 is the world’s most-sold family of aircraft and has undergone several makeovers since it entered service in 1968.

Safety Concerns:

In 2007, the European Union banned all Indonesian airlines following a series of crashes and reports of deteriorating oversight and maintenance since deregulation in the late 1990s. The restrictions were fully lifted in 2018.

Between 2007 and 2016, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration lowered its Indonesia safety evaluation to Category 2, meaning its regulatory system was inadequate.