Investigators have located the black box from the Indonesian passenger jet that crashed in the Java Sea on Saturday with 62 people aboard, Indonesian officials said Sunday, a discovery that could offer clues to why the plane suddenly lost contact with air traffic controllers just minutes after taking off.
Bagus Puruhito, chief of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency, said navy ships had detected emergency signals from the flight's data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, the Associated Press reported.
"Hopefully we can lift the black boxes in short time to determine the cause of the crash," military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said, according to the AP.
"We are sure that is the point where the plane crashed."
Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182 left Jakarta on a rainy Saturday bound for Pontianak on Indonesia's Borneo island with 56 passengers and six crew members. Four minutes into the 90-minute flight, the Boeing 737-500 lost contact with air traffic control, according to Flightradar24, and dropped 10,000 feet in around 20 seconds.
Divers spent Saturday and Sunday pulling debris and human remains from the water at the crash site northwest of Jakarta. Amid the airplane parts, rescuers found children's clothing and body parts. No one appeared to have survived the crash.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the country's National Transport Safety Committee would investigate.
"I represent the government and all Indonesians in expressing my deep condolences for this tragedy," he said.
Relatives of the passengers were devastated.
"I have four family members on the flight – my wife and my three children," Yaman Zai told reporters, according to the BBC. "How could my heart not be torn into pieces?"
Boeing said its "thoughts are with the crew, passengers, and their families."
"We are in contact with our airline customer and stand ready to support them during this difficult time." the aerospace company said in a statement.
Boeing has come under fire in recent years for its 737 Max model, whose faulty technology was blamed for deadly crashes in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019 before the company temporarily grounded the airplane.
But Sriwijaya Air's 737-500 model did not have the problematic system that plagued the 737 Max. The Indonesian airline had operated since 2003 without a passenger fatality until Saturday.
Indonesia, an archipelago of thousands of islands, has one of the worst air safety records in Asia. The country has recorded 91 fatal airline accidents and more than 2,100 casualties since 1946, according to the Aviation Safety Network.
The Lion Air 737 Max crash in October 2018 killed all 189 people on board. In 2014, an AirAsia Airbus flying from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore fell into the sea, killing 162 people. An investigation found that the crash was due in part to a malfunction.
Analysts attribute the country's persistent aviation problems to low-budget airlines, insufficient aviation infrastructure and a lack of regulation and oversight.
Conditions have improved. The European Union and the United States lifted bans on Indonesian aircrafts in their skies in recent years.