Indonesian authorities on Sunday extended by three days the search for the victims and the second black box of the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed into the Java Sea minutes after take-off on October 29, Reuters reported. All 189 people on board were killed.
“We decided to extend it three days beginning on Monday,” said Muhammad Syaugi, head of the search and rescue agency. An evaluation of the crash site led to the decision, he said. Rescue teams have so far recovered 105 body bags and handed them over to the police for identification, and only seven victims have been identified.
“I’m sure the total will increase,” Syaugi said.
The agency’s priorities include recovering human remains and the cockpit voice recorder after divers on Thursday retrieved the flight data recorder. Both devices are known as black boxes.
National Transportation Safety Committee deputy chairperson Haryo Satmiko on Sunday said that investigators had downloaded 69 hours of flight data from the first black box, AFP reported.
Syaugi said while divers had heard a “ping” from the second black box, they were yet to locate it. “The signal picked up by the ping locator has been followed by reliable divers,” he said. “But they haven’t found [it] yet.” More than 100 divers are currently working in different zones, he said.
“Although the sound is quite weak, it came from the spot not far from the ship ‘Victory,’” he said. ‘Victory’ is one of the vessels involved in the search efforts that have been hampered by ocean currents and a metre-deep layer of mud on the sea bed, CNN reported.
While a team on site informed him that it had located the fuselage, Syaugi said he was yet to see it himself.
Meanwhile, a 48-year-old diver involved in the search operations died on Saturday. Syachrul Anto was a volunteer with the search and rescue agency, Indonesian navy’s search and rescue division commander Isswarto told AFP. It is believed that Anto died from decompression.
“He was found by the SAR [search and rescue] team, unconscious,” said Isswarto. “He was treated by our doctors and after he regained consciousness, we sent him to the chamber for decompression.”
Anto had volunteered in Palu after a tsunami and earthquake in September and was also involved in recovering the bodies and debris from an Air Asia plane crash four years ago.