More debris found as Indonesian authorities race against time to search for missing Sriwijaya Air plane

More debris found as Indonesian authorities race against time to search for missing Sriwijaya Air plane

Authorities show debris from Sriwijaya SJ 182 at Tanjung Priok harbour on Jan 10, 2020
Authorities show suspected debris, including a pink child's blouse, of the missing Sriwijaya SJ 182 plane at Tanjung Priok harbour in Jakarta on Jan 10, 2021. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

JAKARTA: Authorities have found more debris of what they suspect may be parts of the missing Sriwijaya Air SJ 182 plane on Sunday (Jan 10) as rescuers race against time to find the passengers and aircraft.

Rescuers also said they have retrieved five bags of body parts and have sent them to the police hospital for identification.

The commercial Indonesian airline plane disappeared from radar screens on Saturday just four minutes after it took off at 2:36pm local time (3.36pm Singapore time) from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Greater Jakarta. The Boeing 737-500 was on its way to Pontianak, West Kalimantan. 

READ: Black boxes location for downed Indonesian Sriwijaya Air plane found

Air Chief Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto who went on a search and rescue ship on Sunday said divers have found parts of the plane including debris with the plane’s registration number and wreckage bearing the colours of the airline company at a depth of 23m in the sea north of Jakarta.

“We have reports from the divers that the visibility in the waters is good and clear, enabling them to find some parts of the plane,” the military commander said in a statement. 

Head of the National Transportation Safety Committee Soerjanto Tjahjono meanwhile said his team has been deployed with equipment which can detect objects under water including the two black box components - the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR). 

VIDEO: SUSPECTED PLANE DEBRIS, HUMAN BODY PARTS FOUND

READ: Indonesian Sriwijaya Air plane crashes after take-off with 62 aboard

Both recorders are crucial as they will reveal what happened to the flight. 

Also among the debris found on Sunday were a pink child's blouse, a yellow safety vest and tyre parts. 

Authorities show debris from Sriwijaya SJ 182 at Tanjung Priok harbour on Jan 10, 2020
Authorities show suspected debris of the missing Sriwijaya SJ 182 plane at Tanjung Priok harbour in Jakarta on Jan 10, 2021. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

These were handed over to the relevant authorities, said Brigadier General Rasman MS, the search and rescue agency mission coordinator. 

“The pink blouse we will hand over to the Disaster Victim Identification teams, while material suspected to be parts of the plane like the safety vest, we will hand over to the National Transportation Safety Committee,” he told reporters.

READ: ‘Hoping for a miracle’: Anxious wait for friends and families after Sriwijaya Air plane goes missing in Indonesia

Previously on Saturday night, officials have also managed to find suspected debris of the plane and sent them for identification to relevant parties. 

Jakarta’s police spokesman Yusri Yunus told CNA that there were body parts among the findings. 

Personnel spray disinfectant on body bags at Tanjung Priok harbour on Jan 10, 2021
Personnel spray disinfectant on bags of retrieved body parts at Tanjung Priok harbour on Jan 10, 2021. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

VOLUNTEER DIVERS DEPLOYED

Sriwijaya Air SJ 182 had 62 people on board including seven children and three infants. 

Authorities believe the plane went down in the waters north of Jakarta, around Laki and Lancang island, part of the Thousand Islands chain.

Tracking service Flightradar24 reported that the plane climbed to reach 10,900ft within four minutes after departure, and then began a steep descent. It stopped transmitting data 21 seconds later.

Flight map of Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182
A flight tracker map showing Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 after it took off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (Image: Twitter/Flightradar24)

Fishermen CNA spoke to said they saw something fall from the sky into the ocean and then heard a big explosion around the time the plane disappeared from the radar screens.

READ: Sriwijaya Air crash places Indonesia's aviation safety under fresh spotlight

The search to find SJ 182 is an extensive operation involving multiple personnel from Basarnas - Indonesia's rescue agency - the National Transportation Safety Committee, military, police, the transport ministry and volunteers. 

On Sunday afternoon, 18 volunteer divers were deployed to find the missing aircraft. 

“Today we can probably do two dives. Tomorrow, we can continue to dive as well,” said Mr Hendrata Yudha, who is a dive instructor and will be in charge of the volunteer group's logistics.

Volunteer divers get ready at Tanjung Priok harbour to find the missing Sriwijaya Air SJ 182
Volunteer divers get ready at Jakarta's Tanjung Priok harbour to find the missing Sriwijaya Air SJ 182 plane on Jan 10, 2021. (Photo: Kiki Siregar)

A personnel with Basarnas, who wanted to remain anonymous, told CNA that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the operation is riskier. 

However, they have been regularly tested for the virus and the last test was done last week. 

Indonesia has reported more than 800,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest toll in Southeast Asia. 

President Joko Widodo on Sunday sent his condolences to the families of the passengers and crew of the missing plane.

Source: CNA/ks(ta)

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