9 bodies found as search continues for Lion Air wreckage

Search operations for the wreckage of flight JT610 will continue through the night. (Reuters pic)

JAKARTA: The search operation for the ill-fated Lion Air aircraft which crashed into the waters of Tanjung Karawang will continue for 24 hours, with nine bodies found by search and rescue (SAR) teams so far.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was quoted by Indonesian media to have ordered the search for the wreckage to be carried out around the clock.

“I have ordered tonight for 24-hour operation using floodlights to expedite the search especially the aircraft wreckage,” he was quoted as saying.

Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) operation director Bambang Suryo Aji said the operation to look for the aircraft wreckage now involved the armed forces, police and Basarnas using 14 patrol boats and two helicopters.

“As at 8.30pm Indonesian time, the diving operation has been halted but the search for the plane will continue round the clock for seven days in the waters,” he said.

He said as of 8.30pm, nine bodies had been found by search and rescue teams and the remains had been sent to a hospital for identification.

“The SAR teams also found several pieces of debris believed to be from the plane as well as items belonging to passengers of the ill-fated jet,” he said.

Flight JT610 was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two infants.

The aircraft was piloted by captain Bhavye Suneja and co-pilot Harvino with six crew members namely Shintia Melina, Citra Noivita Anggelia, Alviani Hidayatul Solikha, Damayanti Simarmata, Mery Yulianda, and Deny Maula.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 was reported to have lost contact before crashing in the waters of Karawang, after taking off at 6.20 am from Soekarno-Hatta Airport.

The aircraft should have arrived at Depati Amir Pangkal Pinang Airport at 7.10am West Indonesian time.

Meanwhile, deputy Malaysian Ambassador to Indonesia Zamshari Shaharan confirmed there were no Malaysians on the plane.

“The embassy has obtained detailed information, and so far no Malaysians were involved,” he said.

The Lion Air aircraft which crashed in Karawang waters was a new plane which began operating on Aug 15, 2018.

According to Indonesian media reports, the aircraft had earlier left Denpasar, Bali, to Jakarta and was reported to be facing technical problems but it was repaired before flying to Pangkal Pinang.