Jakarta officials extend search for missing bodies by three days

Investigators succeeded in retrieving hours of data from a crashed Lion Air jet’s flight recorder as Indonesian authorities extended the search at sea for victims and debris.

National Transportation Safety Committee deputy chairman Haryo Satmiko said 69 hours of flight data was downloaded from the recorder including its fatal flight.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet crashed just minutes after take-off from Jakarta last Monday, killing all 189 people on board in the country’s worst airline disaster since 1997.

The flight data recorder was recovered by divers on Thursday in damaged condition and investigators said it required special handling to retrieve its information. The cockpit voice recorder has not been recovered but searchers are focusing on a particular area based on a weak locator signal.

National Search and Rescue Agency chief Muhammad Syaugi said the search operation, now in its seventh day and involving hundreds of personnel and dozens of ships, would continue for another three days.

Mr Syaugi paid tribute to a volunteer diver, Syahrul Anto, who died during the search effort on Friday. The family of the 48-year-old refused an autopsy and he was buried on Saturday in Surabaya.

More than 100 body bags of human remains have been recovered. Mr Syaugi said the number would continue to increase and remains were also now washing up on land.

He said weak signals, potentially from the cockpit voice recorder, were traced to a location but an object hadn’t been found yet due to deep mud.

Flight tracking websites show the plane had erratic altitude during its 13-minute flight and a previous flight the day before from Bali to Jakarta. Passengers on the Bali flight reported terrifying descents. In both cases, crews requested to return to their departure airport after take-off.

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