Indonesian authorities have downloaded data from a back box recorder of the Lion Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea last week, officials said on Sunday as divers continued to search for a second black box and the remains of the 189 people on board.
“We have successfully retrieved information from the flight data recorder,” Nurcahyo Utomo, the head of an investigation being led by Indonesia’s transport safety committee, told a news conference on Sunday.
He said investigators, including those from the US, Singapore and Australia, had retrieved 69 hours of data from 19 flights carried out by the Boeing 737 aircraft, including the JT610 flight that crashed into waters off Karawang, West Java.
The last recorded data is from October 29 at 6.31 am Western Indonesia Time, corresponding with data on flight tracking websites, Utomo said.
The Lion Air plane took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport at 6.20 am and lost contact with air traffic control about 13 minutes later as it crashed into the sea off Tanjung Karawang, about 70 kilometres east of Jakarta.
Utomo said search and rescue divers were still searching for the second black box, which contains the voice cockpit recording.
“It will be really helpful if we have both black boxes. Based on information from the team on the ships, we detected a strong signal on Saturday and we dived to look for it as the signal grew weaker, but maybe because it is buried with mud,” Utomo said.
The national search and rescue agency Basarnas has so far handed over 105 body bags containing human body parts retrieved from the search area, yet police forensic teams have only been able to identify 14 bodies.
Muhammad Syaugi, the head of Basarnas, told a press conference on Sunday that the agency has extended the search operation by three days as divers continue to search for more remains and the plane’s main fuselage.
So far, the operation has only managed to collect parts broken off from the aircraft’s main body, including the front and back tires and two turbines.
“Hopefully with increased synergy between the police, the military and the search and rescue agency, we can soon conclude the search operation,” Syaugi said, adding that the operation would also make use of remotely operated underwater vehicles.