Indonesia has ordered an inspection of all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes belonging to national commercial airlines, a day after Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the sea minutes after takeoff from the capital Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.
Speaking to CNN by phone Tuesday, transportation ministry official Capt. Avirianto said Lion Air currently has 11 of the models in its fleet while national carrier Garuda Indonesia has one.
“We have inspected Garuda last night while Lion is still in progress,” he said, adding that the ministry hopes to inspect at least three of Lion Air’s planes Tuesday night and the other eight soon.
It is unclear whether the Garuda aircraft passed the inspection.
The managing director of Lion Air group, Daniel Putut Adi Kuncoro, confirmed to CNN that the transport ministry was carrying out the inspections. “We are waiting for their results,” he said. “We will follow what the regulator tells us to do.”
Search-and-rescue operations expanded to at least 400 square nautical miles Tuesday, with divers working to bring passenger remains out of the water and investigators examining fragments of debris scattered over a large expanse of sea.
The aircraft’s fuselage and flight data recorders are yet to be recovered. They should provide more evidence about what caused the flight to crash about 13 minutes after taking off on a routine flight expected to take just over an hour.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo joined search teams at Tanjung Priok port Tuesday, where remains and debris recovered from the crash site have been unloaded.
What we know
- Plane went down at around 6:30 am local time Monday, en route from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang
- Indonesian authorities believe all 189 people on board were killed
- So-called “black box” flight recorder has yet to be found
- Flight crew reported an issue with the plane the night before the flight, repairs were carried out
Police said late Monday that 24 body bags had been transferred from the crash to a local hospital for post mortem. DNA samples have been taken from 132 family members of passengers on board to help with identification, but the Jakarta police commissioner warned this could be difficult, and each body bag so far transferred could contain the remains of more than one person.
At a press conference Tuesday, Muhammad Syaugi of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the identification process was proceeding as quickly as possible, but warned it was unlikely the remains of all passengers would be found.
Cause of crash remains a mystery
The plane, a new Boeing 737 MAX 8, was carrying 181 passengers, as well as six cabin crew members and two pilots, bound for Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka.
It made a request to air traffic control to return to the airport around 19 kilometers (12 miles) after takeoff, but did not indicate there was any emergency.
Radar data did not show that the plane had turned back, and air traffic controllers lost contact with it soon after, Yohanes Sirait, spokesman for AirNav Indonesia, the agency that oversees air traffic navigation, told CNN.