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
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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.


Pakistan PM Imran Khan lashes out at Trump “tirade“

Updated 19 November 2018
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Pakistan PM Imran Khan lashes out at Trump “tirade“

  • Says US needs to stop making Pakistan a “scapegoat” for its failures
  • Insists Islamabad spent $123bn in war on terror compared to $20bn aid provided by Washington

ISLAMABAD: A day after US President Donald Trump claimed that Pakistan does not do “a damn thing” for Washington, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday took to Twitter to set the record straight by telling him to quit using Islamabad as a “scapegoat” in his “tirade” against the country.
In a four-point tweet, Khan explained why Trump’s comments were unjustified, reasoning that “No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pakistan decided to participate in the US war on terror” nevertheless.
He added that while Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in the war and incurred losses of more than  $123 billion to the economy, the aid provided by the US was “a minuscule $20 billion”.
Elaborating on the catastrophic effect that the war on terror had on Pakistan’s tribal region and on the lives of its ordinary citizens, he said: “Our tribal areas were devastated and millions of people uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted the lives of ordinary Pakistanis.”
In his concluding remarks PM Khan said that instead of making “Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 1,40,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops and reportedly $1 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before.”
He ended his statement by asking Trump is he could “name another ally that gave such sacrifices”.
In an interview with Fox News aired on November 18, Trump justified the cancelation of $300 million in military aid to Pakistan by saying that “We’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them any more, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”
Talking about slain Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was found hiding in Pakistan, a short distance away from the country’s prestigious military academy, Trump added that “everybody in Pakistan knew he was there”.
Federal Minister for Human Rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari, issued a statement on Monday terming “Trump’s tirade against Pakistan” a lesson for all those Pakistani leaders “who kept appeasing the US especially after 9/11!”
She added that the “loss of Pakistani lives in the US war on terror, the free space for Raymond Davis and other operatives, the illegal killings by drone attacks — the list is endless…once again history shows appeasement does not work”.
“Whether China or Iran, the US policies of containment and isolation do not coincide with Pakistan’s strategic interests,” she said.
Former Senate Chairman, Raza Rabbani, termed Trump’s remarks “contrary to the facts” and reminded the US president that his “language regarding a sovereign state was aggressive”.
“He should be careful; Pakistan is not a state or colony of the US,” Rabbani said, further reminding Trump that “the US killed Pakistanis in unauthorized drone attacks, the US-sponsored terrorism in Kabul, and a drug industry was created on the Pak-Afghan border for the financial assistance of the US”.
“The Pakistani nation is paying the price of political and economic instability due to its alliance with the US,” he said.
Former Foreign Minister, Khawaja Asif, also took to Twitter to rebuff the US president’s remarks saying, “We continue to pay in blood for what we did for the USA.”
The already strained relations between the United States and Pakistan took another dip in January this year when Trump suspended security assistance to Islamabad over the alleged presence of Afghan militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal belt — a claim rejected by Islamabad.