Search team ends operation as some victims are identified
The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) ended its search for the remains of the passengers and crew members on Friday, 10 days after the Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft crashed into Mount Salak in Bogor, West Java.
The agency decided to stop the search after realizing that no more body parts could be found at the crash site. A smaller team, however, continued its search for the flight data recorder.
“We are no longer finding any signs of bodies to be collected. So today, we have officially stopped the search and rescue operation,” Basarnas chief Vice Marshal Daryatmo said at a press conference at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Friday.
Based on Government Regulation No. 36/2006, the rescue team could have stopped the search operation on the seventh day. But, the team conducted its operation to the maximum.
The smaller team, searching for the flight data recorder, consists of Indonesian Military personnel with the help of officials from the Atang Sanjaya airbase near Mount Salak. They are equipped with metal detectors to help find the recorder.
Daryatmo also thanked all parties that have helped the SAR team during the operation. Basarnas is now in discussions with its Russian counterparts on the possibility of lifting the remaining aircraft debris.
Daryatmo said that the Russians might need the parts for further investigations.
As of Friday, the team had retrieved one part of the black box, believed to be the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) that records the pilot’s conversations, and 35 body bags containing the body parts of the victims and their belongings.
Separately, the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) began transcribing recordings from the Superjet’s black box on Friday.
“Last night [Thursday], we received a memory module case from Russia,” the KNKT team’s investigator-in-charge, Sr. Air Safety Investigator Mardjono Siswosuwarno, said.
Meanwhile, the National Police’s disaster victim identification (DVI) unit had identified 15 of the victims as of Friday.
“We have identified 15 bodies, 13 Indonesians and two Russians, 10 of whom were males and five females. We have informed the families, but the families refuse to disclose the information until the identification process has finished,” DVI chief Sr. Comr. Anton Castilani said.
Rumors have been circulating that the Sukhoi pilot, who is also believed to be dead, tried to leave the aircraft with a parachute.
National Transportation Safety Committee chief Tatang Kurniadi confirmed on Friday that the Sukhoi Superjet 100 was equipped with parachutes in a survival kit. However, he denied rumors that the parachute was used to eject from the aircraft by anyone.
In addition, the aircraft manufacturer, Sukhoi Air Corp Company, stated that it would pay the insurance for the 35 Indonesian victims.
The company’s first deputy president, Vinogradov, said in Jakarta that the Russians were in talks with an Indonesian team regarding the insurance. “We will pay the insurance claims as per the procedures,” he said, without elaborating.
Sunaryo, from PT Trimarga Rekatama, the company acting as an agent between the Indonesian government and the Sukhoi manufacturer, said that his company would be involved in the talks.
Sunaryo said that the talks would include discussing the Government Regulation No. 77/2011 about air transportation responsibilities.
The regulation stipulates that victims of air travel are covered by insurance amounting Rp 1.25 billion (US$135,281). However, reports have it that the Russian company is willing to pay only US$50,000 to the victims’ families, as per Russian standards and laws. (fzm/tas)