Divers have reported seeing the fuselage and engines of the crashed Lion Air jet on the seafloor and a ping locator has detected a signal that may be from the cockpit voice recorder, Indonesia‘s search and rescue chief has said.
Speaking on the sixth day of the search, Muhammad Syaugi said two engines and more landing gear had been found.
“I haven’t seen it myself but I got information from some divers that they have seen the fuselage,” Syaugi told a news conference at a Jakarta port on Saturday where body bags, debris and passenger belongings are first taken.
“We have heard a weak ‘ping’,” Syaugi said, which could be the cockpit’s recorder. “The divers are still searching for it.”
Lion Air’s brand new Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet plunged into the Java Sea early on Monday just minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
It crashed in waters just 30 meters deep, but strong currents have hampered the search effort.
Flight tracking websites have shown that the plane had erratic speed and altitude during its 13-minute flight Monday and a previous flight on Sunday from Bali to Jakarta.
Passengers on Sunday’s flight reported terrifying descents and in both cases, the different cockpit crews requested to return to their departure airport shortly after takeoff.
Lion Air has claimed a technical problem reported after Sunday’s fight was fixed.
Investigators are still attempting to retrieve information from the flight data recorder’s “crash survivable memory unit” that will help determine the cause of the disaster.
It has been damaged and requires special handling, they say.
On Saturday, officials said an Indonesian diver died while trying to recover body parts from the plane.
The commander of the Indonesian navy’s search and rescue division said the man, 48-year-old Syachrul Anto, may have died from decompression sickness.
The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan.
Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. The ban was completely lifted in June.