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Rescuers Continue Search After Deadly Indonesia Plane Crash
03 November 2018, 10:25 | Erica Roy
The Lion Air passenger jet disappeared shortly after takeoff from Jakarta
Ground staff lost touch with flight JT610 of Indonesian budget airline Lion Air just 13 minutes after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 took off early on Monday from Jakarta, on its way to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang. "We felt like in a roller coaster".
Body parts, debris and personal belongings have already been collected from the water, and body bags are being taken to Jakarta for identification.
Some 48 body bags filled with limbs and other remains have so far been recovered, authorities said Wednesday.
A passenger on the plane on the Sunday flight from Bali to Jakarta, Alon Soetanto, told the Indonesian TV channel TVOne that the Boeing 737 dropped suddenly several times in the first few minutes, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Bambang Suryo Aji, operations director for the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), said that the agency had little hope it would find any survivors in the wreckage.
It has been involved in a number of incidents including a fatal 2004 crash and a collision between two Lion Air planes at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport. All 189 people aboard are presumed dead.
If found, the fuselage would be lifted using a crane, because of the many bodies likely to be trapped inside, Muhammad Syaugi, the chief of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, said.
Rescuers have also located a 70-foot-long object on the seafloor that they believe is the plane's fuselage and are working to confirm the origin of an underwater "ping" thought to have come from one of the plane's recorders, Reuters reports. "We are waiting for their results", he said.
The devices record information about the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations.
Lion Air chief Edward Sirait told reporters Monday that the aircraft, which had only been in service for two months, suffered a technical problem during a flight from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta the night before, but was resolved according to procedure.
The accident has resurrected concerns about Indonesia's patchy air safety record which led to a now-lifted ban on its planes entering United States and European airspace.
The technical director of Lion Air who gave the green light for the plane to be flown on Monday has been given his marching orders by Indonesia's transport minister. This saw Indonesian airlines temporarily banned from flying to European countries. Lion has ordered 50 of the jets, worth an estimated Dollars 6.2 billion, and now operates nine. It's been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region of more than 600 million people.
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