One ‘black box’ recovered from Indonesia jet as 1st funeral held


Jakarta • A black box from the crashed Lion Air jet has been recovered, authorities said yesterday, a find that could be critical to establishing why a brand new jet plunged into the Java Sea shortly after take-off, killing 189 people on board.

Divers plucked the orange data recorder from the ocean and placed it in a plastic tub as search teams continued to scour the seabed for the fuselage of the Boeing-737 MAX 8, which crashed off Indonesia’s northern coast on Monday and had only been in service a few months.

There have been no survivors and only body parts have been found so far. Relatives are desperate to be able to say goodbye to their loved ones and the first funeral for one of the passengers was held yesterday.

But many others have yet to be located and analysts hope further victims could still be found with the bulk of the wreckage. “I assume that there will be a lot of bodies still strapped into the seats,” aviation analyst Dudi Sudibyo told AFP.

Dozens of divers are taking part in the massive recovery efforts along with helicopters and ships, but authorities have all but ruled out finding any survivors.

The black boxes, which airlines are required to instal, offer investigators their best chance of discovering why such a new jet crashed.

“The good news is we have found one of the black boxes,” search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi told reporters yesterday.

Authorities say a flight data recorder was recovered, but they were still looking for the cockpit voice recorder. On a Jakarta dockside yesterday, Boeing and US National Transportation Safety Board officials joined the Indonesian team in sifting through twisted metal plane parts and piles of passengers’ torn clothing, shoes, wallets and mobile phones.

Black boxes help explain nearly 90% of all crashes, according to aviation experts.

“Data from the plane — the engine, all the instruments — are recorded there,” Sudibyo said. “If there is an anomaly, some technical problem, it is recorded there too.”

Passengers’ remains are being sent to a hospital for DNA comparison to relatives. Forensic experts identified Jannatun Cintya Dewi as the first victim of the crash.

The 24-year-old civil servant’s coffin was carried by pallbearers through the streets of her East Java hometown Sidoarjo yesterday.

Dewi’s mother collapsed and had to be carried into their home, while friends and relatives wiped away tears as the casket was laid in a freshly dug grave sprinkled with flowers. — AFP