Thursday 15 November 2018

Tearful relatives of Indonesia jet crash victims demand answers

  • A total of 189 people were on board the Lion Air flight that went down in the water off Jakarta

  • Crashed plane had problem on previous flight, airline boss says

  • Pilot asked to turn back but lost contact minutes after takeoff

  • Search effort has involved 151 divers, five helicopters, 61 ships

  • Jakarta officials extend search for missing bodies by three days

A woman, who had family on the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, walks as she holds her son during a news conference about the recovery process at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
A woman, who had family on the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, walks as she holds her son during a news conference about the recovery process at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Distraught: Relatives of passengers on Lion Air flight JT610 wait at the airport in Jakarta. Photo: Reuters
Rescuers carry body bags containing the remains of the victims of Lion Air crash at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia (Binsar Bakkara/AP)
In this May 12, 2012 file photo, a Lion Air passenger jet is parked on the tarmac at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. Indonesia's Lion Air said Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, it has lost contact with a passenger jet flying from Jakarta to an island off Sumatra. (AP Photo/Trisnadi, File)

Cindy Silviana and Augustinus Beo Da Costa

Relatives of the victims of an Indonesian jet that crashed into the sea off Jakarta last week killing all 189 on board demanded answers on Monday as to why the plane had been passed fit to fly and called for no letup in the search for loved ones.

Indonesian authorities on Sunday extended by three days the search for victims and a second black box recorder from wreckage of a nearly new Boeing Co. 737 MAX that slammed into the sea a week ago only minutes after it took off from Jakarta.

At a news conference charged with emotion, relatives addressed questions to Indonesian officials including transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi and the head of the country's transportation safety committee (KNKT).

"We are the victims here. Imagine if you were in our position," said Najib Fuquoni, a relative of a victim, demanding an independent investigation into the crash.

Muhammad Bambang Sukandar, the father of another victim, said Lion Air technicians needed to take "full responsibility" if it was proved they had not properly attended to technical issues following the jet's previous flight from Bali to Jakarta.

"This is not an unimportant thing. These are people’s lives," he said, as he sought to choke back tears.

Relatives began to gather at the airport on Monday (AP/Hadi Sutrisno)
Relatives began to gather at the airport on Monday (AP/Hadi Sutrisno)
Distraught: Relatives of passengers on Lion Air flight JT610 wait at the airport in Jakarta. Photo: Reuters
Rescuers conduct search operation in the waters of Ujung Karawang, West Java (AP)
Rescuers search for victims of a Lion Air passenger jet that crashed in the waters off Tanjung Karawang, Indonesia, Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. The Lion Air flight crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Indonesia's capital on Monday in a blow to the country's aviation safety record after the lifting of bans on its airlines by the European Union and U.S. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Relatives of passengers of the Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea are seen at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Belitung island, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Hadi Sutrisno via REUTERS
Rescue personnel prepare to dive at the location where a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea in the north coast of Karawang regency, West Java province Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Handout/Basarnas via REUTERS
A rescue personnel prepares a ROV before starting to find the location of the Lion Air plane crash in the sea in Karawang regency, West Java province Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Handout/Basarnas via REUTERS
Relatives of passengers of the Lion Air plane that crashed into the sea cry at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Belitung island, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Hadi Sutrisno via REUTERS
Recovered debris are seen of what is believed from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, that took off from Jakarta and crashed into the ocean, Indonesia October 29, 2018 in this image obtained from social media. Basarnas/via REUTERS
Relatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea arrive at Soekarno Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
In this May 12, 2012 file photo, a Lion Air passenger jet is parked on the tarmac at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. Indonesia's Lion Air said Monday, Oct. 29, 2018, it has lost contact with a passenger jet flying from Jakarta to an island off Sumatra. (AP Photo/Trisnadi, File)
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) rescuers inspect debris believed to be from a Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (BNPB via AP)
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) a rescuer inspects debris believed to be from Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (BNPB via AP)
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) rescuers inspect debris believed to be from Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018.. (BNPB via AP)
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) rescuers inspect oi slick debris believed to be from Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (BNPB via AP)
Workers of PT Pertamina examine recovered debris of what is believed from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, onboard Prabu ship owned by PT Pertamina, off the shore of Karawang regency, West Java province, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/PT Pertamina/Handout via REUTERS
Workers of PT Pertamina stand onboard Prabu ship owned by PT Pertamina as they watch what is believed to be debris from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, off the shore of Karawang regency, West Java province, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/PT Pertamina/Handout via REUTERS
Passengers wait for their flight in front of a Lion Air office at Soekarno Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Workers of PT Pertamina examine recovered debris from what is believed to be the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, onboard Prabu ship owned by PT Pertamina off the shore of Karawang regency, West Java province, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/PT Pertamina/Handout via REUTERS
Workers of PT Pertamina examine recovered debris of what is believed to be from the crashed Lion Air flight JT610, onboard Prabu ship owned by PT Pertamina, off the shore of Karawang regency, West Java province, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/PT Pertamina/Handout via REUTERS
A policeman helps a woman who is a relative of a passenger of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea, as she arrives at a crisis center at Soekarno Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Relatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea, arrive at crisis center at Soekarno Hatta International airport near Jakarta, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan
Relatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea, cry at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia, October 29, 2018. Antara Foto/Elza Elvia via REUTERS

"Don't let something like this keep happening in Indonesia," he added. Indonesia is one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets, but its safety record has been patchy. Its transport safety panel investigated 137 serious aviation incidents from 2012 to 2017.

The search effort has involved 151 divers, five helicopters, 61 ships, ranging from fishing boats to ships with advanced sonar scanners, as well as underwater drones.

An Indonesian rescue diver died during the search for a second black box, parts of the plane, and human remains on the muddy seabed.

The head of KNKT Surjanto Tjahjono has said 69 hours of recorded data from 19 flights, including the one that crashed, had been downloaded successfully from a partly damaged flight data recorder recovered on Thursday.

As of Monday, 138 body bags containing human remains had been recovered and handed to police for forensic identification, yet only 14 victims had been identified.

Among the larger parts of the plane found have been a mangled engine and a damaged aircraft wheel.

Tjahjono said based on initial analysis the "engine was running with fairly high speed" when it hit the water. While there were no signs of an explosion in the air, the plane appeared to have hit the water with huge force, he said. "When the plane hit the water, the energy released was extraordinarily large."

Reuters

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