Indonesia stops search for victims of Lion Air crash

Indonesia stops search for victims of Lion Air crash
Families and colleagues of passengers and crew of Lion Air flight JT610 throw flowers and petals from the deck of Indonesia Navy ship KRI Banjarmasin as they visit the site of the crash to pay their tribute, at the north coast of Karawang, Indonesia, November 6, 2018.
PHOTO: Reuters

JAKARTA - Indonesia authorities said on Saturday they had stopped the search for victims of a plane crash that killed all 189 people on board, but would keep looking for the Lion Air flight's second black box, the cockpit voice recorder.

"There is nowhere left to search and we have stopped finding victims' bodies," Muhammad Syaugi, the head of the national search and rescue agency (Basarnas) told media. "We will limit our operations to monitoring."

The nearly new Boeing Co. 737 MAX passenger plane crashed into the sea on Oct. 29 just minutes after taking off from Jakarta en route to Bangka island near Sumatra.

Syaugi said 196 body bags containing human remains had been retrieved and 77 victims identified after forensic examination.

Authorities have downloaded data from one of the black boxes found last week, the flight data recorder, but are still looking for the cockpit voice recorder.

Soearjanto Tjahjono, the head of the transportation safety committee (KNKT), said finding the voice recorder would be critical to understanding the cause of the crash.

"From the black box data, we know about 70-80 percent of what happened but to 100-percent understand the cause of the accident... we need be able to know the conversation that took place in the plane's cockpit," he said, declining to elaborate on what the flight data recorder had revealed.

KNKT has brought in a pinger locator and a vessel capable of sucking up mud to help with the search for the voice recorder, in addition to remotely operated underwater vehicles equipped with cameras.

Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashes into sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta

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    Chief of Indonesia's Lion Air flight JT610 search and rescue operations Muhammad Syaugi looks through recovered belongings believed to be from the crashed flight at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta

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    A pair of infant shoes is pictured among recovered belongings believed to be from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610 at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta.

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    There were 189 people on board flight JT610 of budget airline Lion Air when ground staff lost contact with the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft early on Monday, 13 minutes after it had left the airport in Jakarta, the capital.

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    Rescue team members arrange the wreckage, showing part of the logo of Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea

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    A crying mother shows a graduation picture of her son, Agil Nugroho Septian, who was a passenger on Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at her house in Tegal, Indonesia, October 29, 2018.

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    Lutfiani shows an undated picture of her husband, Deryl Fida Febrianto, a passenger on Lion Air flight JT610, that crashed into the sea, at her house in Surabaya, Indonesia, October 29, 2018.

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    A witness in the Karawang district said he had heard an explosion from the beach around the time the aircraft went down.

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    Sangeeta Suneja, mother of Bhavye Suneja, a pilot of Lion Air flight JT610 which crashed into the sea, reacts as she leaves for Jakarta, in New Delhi

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    Gulshan Suneja, father of pilot Bhavye Suneja.

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    Sony Setiawan (C) speaks to journalists at Pangkal Pinang airport in Bangka Belitung province on October 29, 2018, following his arrival on another airline after missing his pre-planned flight on Lion Air flight JT 610 which crashed off the coast north of Jakarta. - Setiawan was due to board the ill-fated Boeing-737 MAX but was held up on his commute to Soekarno-Hatta airport by Jakarta’s notorious traffic congestion.

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    A forensics team carries bodies of the victims of Lion Air flight JT610 to Sukanto National Police Hospital, East Jakarta, on Monday. In a statement, Lion Air said human remains had been collected in 24 body bags after sweeps of the crash site, which is about 15 km (nine miles) off the coast to the northeast of Jakarta.

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    Rescue team members carry a body bag with the remains of a passenger.

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    Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati hugs a relative of a victim of the Lion Air flight JT610 crash.

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    The Indonesian authorities have mounted a search and rescue operation for a Lion Air plane which crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta on Monday (Oct 29) morning.

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    There are 189 passengers and crew on board the plane, including two infants, one child, two pilots and six cabin crew.

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    The plane plunged into Karawang Bay, West Java province, Mr Muhammad Syaugi, head of the national search and rescue agency, told a press briefing.

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    The waters at the crash site are around 30m to 35m deep.

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    "On the sea surface, we found debris… The location is two nautical miles from where the plane lost contact," he told reporters.

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    The crash site is near a facility of state-owned oil company Pertamina in West Java province. A video taken from a Pertamina vessel near the crash site showed oil patches on the water surface.

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    Officials said the plane had requested a return to base before finally disappearing from the radar.

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    Local TV footage also showed wallets and mobile phones that had been retrieved from the waters.

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    The head of Indonesia's national transportation safety committee (KNKT) Dr Soerjanto Tjahjono told reporters that the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane that crashed entered service in August this year and had clocked only about 800 flight hours.

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    When asked on the cause of the crash, Dr Soerjanto said: "We can't presume anything before finding the blackbox and also the recording from the (air traffic control) tower."

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    An Indonedian boatman takes pictures as debris from the ill-fated Lion Air flight JT 610 floats at sea in the waters north of Karawang, West Java province.

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Tjahjono said he was worried the cockpit voice recorder may have been damaged on impact because KNKT had yet to detect any "ping" sounds that would indicate its location, as had happened with the first black box.

He said authorities were searching for 15 aircraft parts, including an "angle of attack" sensor on the aircraft, which helps the plane's computers understand if the aircraft is stable. Investigators have said one of these sensors had provided erroneous data.

KNKT told Reuters on Wednesday that there was a problem with the sensor on the previous flight taken by the doomed plane from the island of Bali to Jakarta. One sensor had been replaced in Bali.

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