Indonesian divers located parts of the wreckage of a Boeing 737-500 at a depth of 23 meters in the Java Sea on Sunday, a day after the plane crashed with 62 people on board shortly after taking off from Jakarta.
“We have received reports from the diving team that visibility in the water is good and clear, allowing some parts of the aircraft to be discovered,” Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said in a statement. “We are sure this is where the plane crashed.”
He said the objects contained broken pieces of fuselage with aircraft registration parts.
Rescuers previously pulled body parts, clothing and scraps of metal from the surface.
“Hopefully the current conditions and views under the sea will be good until this afternoon so we can continue the search,” he said.
The interruption in the search for Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 came after sonar equipment on a naval ship detected a signal from the aircraft in a location that matched the coordinates of the pilots’ last contact before the aircraft went missing on Saturday afternoon.
It is still unclear what caused the crash. There were no signs of survivors.
“I represent the government and all Indonesians by expressing my deep condolences for this tragedy,” said President Joko Widodo.
“We are doing our best to save the victims. We pray together so that the victims can be found,” he said, adding that he had asked the National Road Safety Committee to conduct an investigation.
Fishermen in the area between Lancang and Laki Islands, part of an archipelago of a thousand islands north of Jakarta’s coast, reported an explosion around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We heard something explode, we thought it was a bomb or a tsunami, because after that we saw the big splash from the water,” Solihin, who bears a name, told The Associated Press by phone.
“It rained heavily and the weather was so bad. So it’s difficult to see around clearly. But we can see the splash and a big wave after the noise. We were very shocked and saw directly the aircraft debris and the fuel boat around us . “
Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said flight SJ182 was an hour late before it took off at 2:36 p.m. It disappeared from radar four minutes later after the pilot contacted air traffic control to ascend to an altitude of 8,839 meters, he said.
There were 62 people on board, including seven children and three babies.
“We are aware of media reports from Jakarta about Sriwijaya Air’s flight SJ-182,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers and their families. We are in contact with our airline customers and are ready to support them in this difficult time.”
The authorities set up two crisis centers, one at the airport and one in the port. Families gathered to await news from loved ones.
The flight manifest was spread on social media with photos and videos of people listed as passengers. A video shows a woman with her children waving goodbye as she walks through the airport.
Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, director president of Sriwijaya Air, said the aircraft, which is 26 years old and previously used by airlines in the United States, is airworthy. He told reporters on Saturday that the plane had previously flown to Pontianak and Pangkal Pinang the same day.
“The maintenance report says that everything went well and was able to fly,” said Jauwena at a press conference. He said the plane was delayed because of bad weather, not any damage.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation with more than 260 million inhabitants, has been plagued by land, sea and air transport accidents because ferries were overcrowded, infrastructure was aging and safety standards were poorly enforced.
In October 2018, a Lion Air-operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. The aircraft involved in Saturday’s incident did not have the automated flight control system that played a role in the Lion Air crash and another 737 MAX 8 jet crash in Ethiopia five months later, leading to the landing of the MAX 8 led for 20 months.
The Lion Air crash was Indonesia’s worst air disaster since 1997, when 234 people were killed on a Garuda Airlines flight near Medan on Sumatra Island. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore crashed into the sea, killing 162 people.
Sriwijaya Air has had only a few minor incidents in the past, although a farmer was killed in 2008 when the landing plane pulled off the runway due to a hydraulic problem.
The United States banned Indonesian air carriers from operating in the country in 2007, but overturned the decision in 2016, citing improvements in compliance with international aviation standards. The European Union previously had similar bans and lifted them in June 2018.