The two black boxes of the Boeing that crashed at sea off Jakarta with 62 people on board were located on Sunday, Indonesian authorities said, an important step to help investigators determine the causes of the accident.
• Read also: Debris of missing Boeing 737 found.
“We have located the position of the black boxes, both of us,” said Soerjanto Tjahjanto, head of the transport security committee.
The divers, who have recovered human remains, debris and clothing since the morning, “will start looking for them and I hope it won’t take long to recover them,” he noted.
Indonesian company Sriwijaya Air’s Boeing 737-500 plunged into the sea off the Indonesian capital on Saturday around 2:40 p.m. local time, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta.
No details have been given at this stage on the possible causes of the accident by the authorities.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo expressed “his deep condolences” and called on his fellow citizens to “pray together for the victims to be found”.
Rescue workers said they recovered five bags containing human remains as well as what appear to be pieces of the fuselage and debris.
The first debris was reported at the main port of Jakarta, including an airplane tire and a child’s pink clothes, an AFP journalist observed.
Among the passengers were Beben Sofian, a 59-year-old Indonesian, and her husband Dan Razanah, 58.
“They took a selfie and sent it to their children before taking off,” their nephew Hendra told AFP.
Fifty passengers, including 10 children, and the 12 members of the crew were on board; all Indonesians.
Flight SJ182 was scheduled to land at Pontianak, on the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, a 90-minute flight.
But the device, which left Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, disappeared from radar very soon after takeoff, while it was over the Java Sea, off the Indonesian capital.
Saturday night, relatives of the passengers awaited news in anguish.
“I have four family members on the plane, my wife and three children,” said Yaman Zai, who was waiting for them at Pontianak airport, in tears.
“My wife sent me a picture of the baby today […]. How could my heart not be broken? ”He told AFP.
According to data from the Flightradar24 website, the aircraft reached an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 m) before dropping sharply to 250 feet. He then lost contact with the control tower.
Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Saturday that the device appeared to deviate from its course just before disappearing from radar.
Bad weather, pilot error or technical problems may have been factors in the crash, said Gerry Soejatman, an aviation analyst based in Jakarta.
“But it is still too early to conclude anything.” “When we find the black box, we can start to assemble the puzzle,” he told AFP.
Fishermen near the site, quoted by CNN Indonesia and other local media, said they heard at least one explosion at the time of the crash, which authorities have not confirmed.
In October 2018, 189 people died in the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX that crashed in the Java Sea, 12 minutes after takeoff.
An accident involving the same model of plane in Ethiopia resulted in the immobilization for months of this type of plane and the US aircraft manufacturer was fined $ 2.5 billion this week for inducing mistaken the authorities during the approval process of this device.
Sriwijaya’s plane does not belong to the controversial new generation of Boeing 737 MAX, but is a “classic” Boeing 737, 26 years old.
The airline industry in Indonesia has seen tragedies regularly in recent years and several airlines from this country have been banned in Europe in the past.