Indonesians find parts of wreckage of Lion Air plane as hopes fade for survivors

Most of the bodies are believed to be trapped inside the plane’s fuselage. (AP)
Updated 31 October 2018

Indonesians find parts of wreckage of Lion Air plane as hopes fade for survivors

  • Ground staff lost contact with flight JT610 of budget airline Lion Air 13 minutes after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft took off early on Monday

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) continues to search the waters off Tanjung Karawang where a Lion Air jet crashed on Monday morning, as hopes fade of finding any survivors of the 189 people, including a baby and two children, on board.

Basarnas’s Director of Operations Bambang Suryo Aji said as of 7 p.m. Jakarta time, the search and rescue mission has handed over to the police forensic team nine body bags containing human body parts collected from the crash site in West Java, about 75 kilometers east of the Indonesian capital.

“We are working around the clock to scour the surface but we have called divers off as visibility underwater gets too dark,” Aji said.

Most of the bodies are believed to be trapped inside the plane’s fuselage and the agency is still looking for the plane’s black box, he added.

“We have found so far the tail of the Lion Air JT 610 plane, which bears the airline’s logo,” Aji said in a press conference in Jakarta.

There were few other signs of the plane. “They are just some broken parts of the plane,” he said.

Lion Air JT 610 took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno Hatta airport at 6.20 and lost contact with the air traffic controller 13 minutes later. The flight was scheduled to land in Pangkal Pinang airport in Bangka-Belitung province off Sumatra at 7.20.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane is reported to have requested to return to the airport before it lost contact with the air controller and it is believed to have crashed into the nearby sea, which is about 30-35 kilometers deep.

“It is very unlikely that there would be any survivors given the plane debris collected from the waters are small pieces,” Basarnas spokesman, Suri Sinaga, told Arab News.

He added that the rescue team had plucked personal items such as clothes, shoes and bags believed to have belonged to the passengers, from the waters along with the plane debris.

They will be deposited in Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok containter port before being handed over to the National Transportation Safety Commission to investigate the cause of the crash.

Sinaga said Basarnas had deployed four vessels to keep searching the surface in the evening to make the most of the first 24 hours since the crash occurred.

On Tuesday, the agency will deploy helicopters to monitor the search area for other debris.

Lion Air CEO Edward Sirait told a press conference that the plane was declared airworthy by engineers qualified to check the plane and approved the plane’s release for flight and that the new aircraft started operation on Aug. 15.

The crash happened just four months after the EU decided to lift the ban for dozens of Indonesian airlines to fly into European airspace on June 14.

The executive body of the EU, the European Commission (EC), updated its EU Air Safety List in June, which removed all remaining 55 Indonesian air carriers from Indonesia, marking the total removal of 62 Indonesian airlines from the list, following “further improvements to the aviation safety situation that was ascertained in the country.”

Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi defended the country’s improved air safety record but said that violations by airline operators would be subject to the law.

Indonesia has not had a major airline accident since the Air Asia flight from Surabaya in East Java bound for Singapore went missing in December 2014 and crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 162 people on board.

The last fatal air crash was in August when a small Pilatus Porter light plane of Dimonim Air crashed in the mountainous area of Papua province, killing eight people on board with a 12-year-old boy as the sole survivor.

Lion Air is the largest low-cost airline in Indonesia. It has had  reputation issues concerning delaying flights, s poor safety record, and reports of its pilots being arrested by police for using drugs.

UK PM May seeks Brexit fix in talks with rivals

Updated 29 min 45 sec ago

UK PM May seeks Brexit fix in talks with rivals

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May scrambled to put together a new Brexit strategy on Thursday with cross-party talks after MPs sparked political turmoil by rejecting her previous agreement with the EU.
May reached out to rival parties on Wednesday night shortly after surviving a no-confidence vote, hoping to hammer out a Brexit fix that she could present to parliament on Monday.
Just over two months remain before the world’s fifth-largest economy is due to leave the EU, its closest trading partner, after 46 years.
But the island nation is still embroiled in many of the same arguments that were raging when voters defied government warnings and voted to leave in a 2016 referendum.
May’s olive branch offer came after a hectic 24 hours that saw her Brexit deal defeated by a historic margin in one vote and her government then cling on to power in a second one, by a narrow margin of 325 to 306.
May conceded in a Wednesday night television address to the nation that Britons might find the political upheaval “unsettling.”
She called on the opposition Labour party and its smaller pro-EU allies “to put self-interest aside” and attempt to find a solution to end the deadlock.
“The government approaches these meetings in a constructive spirit and I urge others to do the same,” she said.

But May ran into immediate hurdles as top MPs set out demands and conditions contradictory to the government’s current stance.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would only sit down with May if she ruled out the possibility of a “no-deal Brexit.”
That scenario would see trade barriers go up overnight as existing agreements between Britain and the EU expire on March 29.
May’s meetings late Wednesday with top MPs from the pro-EU Liberal Democratic Party and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties also yielded fresh demands.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) is trying to rule out “no-deal” and secure a second referendum, which could only be held if Brexit is postponed.
“For any discussion between your government and the SNP to be meaningful, these options must be on the table,” SNP parliament leader Ian Blackford said in a letter to May released after their meeting.
But Liberal Democrat chief Vince Cable said May showed a strong desire to engage with her parliamentary foes.
“I think in the current state of crisis that is a positive,” Cable told BBC Radio.

May herself hinted on Wednesday that Brexit might be postponed if London rallies around a single set of proposals that it could present to the other 27 EU leaders.
She told parliament that Brussels would allow this “if it was clear that there was a plan toward moving toward an agreed deal.”
The British pound has rallied over the course of the week on expectations of a delay to Brexit.
Such a postponement would stop the UK immediately crashing out of the world’s largest single market.
But May has so far stuck to two Brexit principles that — if broken — could see more members of her own Conservative party revolt: limiting EU migration and pursuing an independent trade policy.
Both of those red lines are at odds with opposition hopes for membership of an EU customs union or its single market.
“We can’t stay in the current EU customs union,” Conservative party chairman Brandon Lewis told BBC Radio.