Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim
Aldha Refa, the wife of Okky Bisma, a flight attendant and one of the 62 people aboard the ill-fated Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182, holds his photo while surrounded by family and friends during his funeral in Jakarta on Jan. 14, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2021

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim

Sobbing relatives bury Indonesian plane crash victim
  • Funeral traditions in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, call for a quick burial of the dead
  • Bad weather, pilot error, poor maintenance and mechanical failure were among possible factors

JAKARTA: Sobbing friends and relatives filed into a Jakarta cemetery Thursday to bury the remains of a flight attendant from the crashed Indonesian passenger jet, as divers restarted their hunt for its second black box.
Okky Bisma, 29, was the first confirmed victim of Saturday’s disaster after fingerprints from his retrieved hand were matched to those on a government identity database.
There were 62 crew and passengers, including 10 children, on the Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500 when it plunged about 3,000 meters in less than a minute before slamming into the Java Sea just after take-off from Jakarta.
At least five other victims have since been identified, as forensic examiners sort through mangled human remains retrieved from the wreckage-littered seabed in the hope of matching DNA with relatives.
At the cemetery, Bisma’s wife Aldha Refa clutched a portrait of her husband and sprinkled flower petals on a mound of dirt where his coffin was buried.
“Rest in peace up there darling and wait for me... in heaven,” Refa, also a flight attendant, wrote in a tribute posted on social media this week.
“Thank you for being the perfect husband when you were on earth.”
Funeral traditions in Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, call for a quick burial of the dead.
But the identification process could take weeks or more, prolonging the agony for some distraught families.
Bisma’s family gave up hope of recovering more remains and decided instead to bury what divers had retrieved, said his father Supeno Hendy Kiswanto.
“Today we’re still mourning, but we surrender to Allah for what has happened,” Kiswanto told the ceremony.
“Death is in the hands of God... Let’s pray Allah grants him a place in heaven.”
Nearly 270 divers were on hand Thursday as authorities restarted the underwater hunt, which was called off a day earlier due to bad weather and rough seas.
“The main focus (today) will be the diving,” Rasman MS, the search-and-rescue agency’s operations director, said earlier Thursday.
“We’re not just looking for one thing – victims, the cockpit voice recorder and debris are all priorities.”
Investigators said they had extracted and cleaned a memory module from a retrieved flight data recorder and hope to be able to read critical details on the device soon, with the focus now on finding the plane’s cockpit voice recorder.
Black box data includes the speed, altitude and direction of the plane as well as flight crew conversations, and helps explain nearly 90 percent of all crashes, according to aviation experts.
So far authorities have been unable to explain why the 26-year-old plane crashed just four minutes after take-off, bound for Pontianak city on Borneo island, a 90-minute flight away.
It had experienced pilots at the controls, and preliminary evidence showed that the crew did not declare an emergency or report technical problems as it sharply deviated from its planned course just before the crash, authorities said.
Bad weather, pilot error, poor maintenance and mechanical failure were among possible factors, aviation analysts said.
As the global pandemic hammered demand for air travel, the jet – previously flown by US-based Continental Airlines and United Airlines – had been parked in a hangar for about nine months before it was put back into service in December after being declared airworthy, according to the transport ministry.
Since then, it had flown more than 130 times before the accident, flight tracking data showed.
The crash probe was likely to take months, but a preliminary report was expected in 30 days.


US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
Updated 2 min 15 sec ago

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas

US gun lobby NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
  • NRA execs are facing charges of illegally diverting funds for lavish personal trips and other questionable expenditures
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight
AUSTIN, Texas: The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will seek to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York.
The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the organization over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.
The coronavirus pandemic has also upended the NRA, which last year laid off dozens of employees. The group canceled its national convention and scuttled fundraising. The NRA’s bankruptcy filing listed between $100 million and $500 million in assets and between $100 million and $500 million in liabilities. Still, the NRA claimed in announcing the move that the organization was “in its strongest financial condition in years.”
The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Dallas and said it planned to incorporate in Texas, where records show it formed a limited liability corporation, Sea Girt LLC, in November 2020. Sea Girt LLC made a separate bankruptcy filing Friday, listing fewer than $100,000 in liabilities.
In its filing, the NRA said its longtime leader, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, made the decision to file for bankruptcy protection in consultation with a “special litigation committee” comprised of three NRA officials that was formed in September to oversee its legal strategies. The NRA board voted Jan. 7 to clarify LaPierre’s employment agreement, giving him the power to “reorganize or restructure the affairs” of the organization.
“The move will enable long-term, sustainable growth and ensure the NRA’s continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York,” the NRA said in a statement.
A message seeking comment was left with a Dallas lawyer who made the bankruptcy filings on behalf of the NRA and Sea Girt LLC.
Shortly after the announcement, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she would not allow the NRA to “evade accountability” or oversight. Her office’s lawsuit last year highlighted misspending and self-dealing claims that have roiled the NRA and LaPierre in recent years— from hair and makeup for his wife to a $17 million post-employment contract for himself.
“The NRA’s claimed financial status has finally met its moral status: bankrupt,” James said.
The gun-rights group boasts about 5 million members. Though headquartered in Virginia, the NRA was chartered as a nonprofit in New York in 1871 and is incorporated in the state. Going forward, the NRA said a committee will study opportunities to relocate segments of its operations to Texas and elsewhere.
The NRA’s largest creditor, owed $1.2 million, is Ackerman McQueen, which is the group’s former advertising agency that was behind the now-shuttered NRA TV service. The NRA sued the Oklahoma-based company in 2019, alleging it was being overbilled and said in Friday’s bankruptcy filing that the debt it is owed is disputed. The lawsuit is pending. A message seeking comment was left with Ackerman McQueen.
In the New York lawsuit, Ackerman McQueen was accused of aiding lavish spending by LaPierre and other NRA executives by picking up the tab and then sending a lump sum bill to the organization for “out-of-pocket expenses.”
“No financial filing can ever shroud the moral bankruptcy of Wayne LaPierre and his wife and their lap dogs on the NRA board,” said Bill Powers, an Ackerman McQueen spokesperson and former public affairs director for the NRA.
Court records also show more than $960,000 owed to Membership Marketing Partners LLC, a firm that lists its headquarters at the same address as the NRA. Another $200,000 is owed to Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based company that owns and operates NASCAR tracks, according to the records.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott quickly welcomed the news, tweeting: “Welcome to Texas — a state that safeguards the 2nd Amendment.” The NRA said it has more than 400,000 members in Texas and plans to hold its annual convention in Houston later this year.
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Sisak reported from New York. Associated Press reporter Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.