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Divers recover ‘black box’ from jet that crashed into sea as first victim identified

Navy divers have recovered a “black box” from an Indonesian airliner which crashed into the Java Sea on Saturday with 62 people on board.

TV pictures showed in inflatable boat carrying a large white container, which in turn was carrying the box.

It was unclear whether it was the Boeing 737-500’s flight data or cockpit voice recorder.

The boxes were believed to be buried under sharp objects which needed to be removed first, Admiral Yudo Margono of the Indonesian navy said. They were thought to be about 75ft (23m) below the surface of the sea.

A remotely-operated vehicle was sent to the location between Lancang and Laki islands, just north of the capital, Jakarta, and at least 160 divers were involved in the search.

A member of the Indonesian navy inspects a piece of plane debris
Image: A member of the Indonesian navy inspects a piece of plane debris

They were using high-tech “ping locator” equipment to narrow their hunt for the boxes.

A navy ship had already picked up some intense pings from the devices, which detached from the tail of the aircraft when it crashed.

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More than 3,600 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small boats have also joined the search for debris.

The Sriwijaya Air jet, which was heading to the island of Borneo, came down about four minutes after taking off from Jakarta in heavy rain.

According to tracking service Flightradar24, the 26-year-old plane lost more than 10,000ft (3,000m) of altitude in less than a minute.

The airliner, which had been grounded between March and December because of the coronavirus pandemic, passed an airworthiness inspection on 14 December, Indonesia’s transport ministry said on Tuesday.

It resumed commercial flights eight days later.

A relative of a passenger takes a swab test to help identify their family member
Image: A relative of a passenger takes a swab test to help identify them

Initial findings from Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee suggest a jet engine was running when the aircraft hit the water, based on the damage to a fan blade.

The first victim to be named is 29-year-old flight attendant Okky Bisma, who was identified using his fingerprints, police said.

“My super kind husband… Heaven is your place… Until we meet again darling,” his wife wrote on Instagram.

So far, searchers have sent 74 body bags containing human remains to police identification experts.

Family members have been providing samples for DNA tests, and officers say results are expected within four to eight days.

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