Jakarta: Indonesian search and rescue teams on Tuesday widened the search area as they looked for the fuselage, black boxes and victims of the Lion Air plane that crashed in the Java Sea a day earlier with 189 people on board.
An Indonesian official said that the remains of at least 10 people were retrieved and only fragments of the plane were found, Efe news reported.
Flight JT 610 went down on Monday 13 minutes after take off from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka. There was no indication yet of what caused the plane to go down.
Didi Hamzar, Director of Preparedness, Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), said that the search radius from the suspected crash site now extended to 10 nautical miles (18.5 km) compared to Monday’s 5 nautical miles.
The plane is believed to have plunged into the water, about 8 km east of Cape Tanjung Karawang, located in the eastern part of Jakarta Bay.
More than 100 rescue personnel were searching the area with 35 boats, a total of 50 divers and with the help of remote controlled underwater sonar technology that tracks the sea floor up to the depth of 30 to 60 metres.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo joined search teams at Tanjung Priok port on Tuesday, where the remains and debris recovered from the crash site were unloaded.
The police said late Monday that 24 body bags were transferred from the crash to a local hospital for post mortem.
DNA samples were taken from 132 family members of the passengers on board to help with identification, but the Jakarta police commissioner warned this could be difficult, and each body bag so far transferred could contain the remains of more than one person.
Muhammad Syaugi of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the identification process was proceeding as quickly as possible, but warned that it was unlikely that the remains of all passengers would be found, CNN said.
Agency staff was going through personal items recovered from the crash site, including passports, wallets and IDs.
The plane was flown by Indian captain Bhavye Suneja who before the crash, requested for permission to return to the airport of the Indonesian capital, but did not send an emergency signal, officials said.
According to Basarnas, the plane shattered due to its severe impact with the sea surface after it dived at rapid speed, allegedly from some 3,000-feet height, making it break into pieces.
Basarnas Operation Director Bambang Suryo Aji dismissed allegations that the plane exploded in the sky as there were no burn signs on the parts of the plane and the bodies found floating around the crash site.
Founded in 1999, Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest low-cost airline and has had half a dozen non-fatal accidents and one fatal accident, which occurred in 2004 in the city of Solo, leaving 25 people dead.