Divers searching for a plane believed to have crashed off Indonesia have found more debris after the flight’s distress signal was detected.
Investigators believe the signal could come from the flight recorder of a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the sea after taking off from the capital Jakarta.
There are fears for the 62 passengers and crew on board after human body parts and suspicious parts of the aircraft were found.
There were ten children on board, and the relatives had to wait excruciatingly for their fate to be confirmed.
The Boeing 737-500 was en route to Pontianak in West Kalimantan before disappearing from radar screens four minutes after takeoff on Saturday.
The crash marks the first major airline incident in Indonesia since a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max crashed in 2018, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
This plane also crashed into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta Airport.
“We saw signals in two places,” said Bagus Puruhito, head of the Indonesian search and rescue agency, to reporters on board a military ship. “This could be the black box – we’ll investigate.”
Indonesian naval officer Wahyudin Arif told iNEWS that they had found suspicious parts of the aircraft fuselage about three feet long that were part of a tire and parts of the human body.
According to media reports, body parts were taken to a police hospital for identification.
Search teams and fishermen have previously found other debris and part of an evacuation slide believed to have come from the jet in the seas off Jakarta.
“I am optimistic that we will soon find (the plane),” said Henri Alfiandi, an assistant to the Indonesian’s chief of staff
Air Force told a press conference.
Muhammad Yassin, director of the POLAIR marine police, told local media the search is centered on the outer ring of the islands of Laki and Lancang off the coast of Jakarta.
The sea in this area is about 65-75 feet deep.
A diver involved in the search and rescue operation told Kompas TV that his team had an underwater metal detector and a pinger locator to pick up signals for the aircraft’s two black boxes.
The Indonesian Meteorological Agency warned of heavy rain and strong winds that could hamper search and rescue efforts.
Sriwijaya Air’s aircraft was a nearly 27-year-old Boeing 737-500, much older than the troubled Boeing 737 MAX.
Older 737 models are widespread and did not involve the system in the MAX security crisis.
“We are in contact with our airline customers and are ready to support them in this difficult time,” Boeing said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the crew, passengers and their families.”
Distraught relatives waited for news of loved ones in Pontianak, some 460 miles from Jakarta.
A crisis center for relatives has been set up at Jakarta’s main airport.
The Sriwijaya Air Group, founded in Jakarta in 2003, mostly flies within Indonesia.
The low-cost airline has a solid safety record, with four incidents recorded in the Aviation Safety Network database showing no on-board losses.