Indonesia has suffered several air disasters over the past decade, and Wardoyo- a Scuba diver, part of the searching team has been involved in more than his fair share of undersea searches. The 49-year-old worked on recovery efforts after an AirAsia Flight carrying 162 people went down in the Java Sea in December 2014.
Less than four years later, he returned to the same waters to hunt for wreckage and bodies in the wake of a Lion Air crash that claimed 189 lives. Now he’s back there again after Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 plunged into the ocean with 62 people on board. Among them were seven children and three infants.
He’s never seen a crash as devastating as this.
“This Sriwijaya crash is the worst. The aircraft body is destroyed and scattered,” Wardoyo said by text message. “We’ve only found small chunks of human remains. On the Lion Air crash, we still found big pieces, and the AirAsia crash we found almost a complete human body.”
What happened to the Sriwijaya Flight?
SJ182 plummeted close to 10,000 feet (3,050 meters) in 14 seconds shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on a stormy Saturday afternoon. Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee confirmed that the Boeing Co. 37-500’s engines were running when the plane hit the sea at high speed, indicating the aircraft was in 7one piece upon impact.
One possibility investigators are looking into is the pilots losing control because a malfunctioning throttle was producing more thrust in one of the engines, according to a person familiar with the situation. The device had been having problems on previous flights, the person said.
The flight data recorder was recovered last week and will provide clues as to whether this was a problem with the Boeing plane, pilot error, a freak weather occurrence, or something else entirely. But the investigation is hamstrung without the other black box.
Big swells, high winds, and rain wouldn’t affect the divers below, but it makes it difficult for the surface team to operate dinghies and rubber boats.
The divers returned to the crash site of the flight later that morning on a smaller boat.
“They may use vacuum pumps or dredging once all the victims have been identified or there a no more human remains at the scene,” he said.
“It’s not nice for us, but we always think about the families who lost their loved ones,” Wardoyo said. “It’s not easy, we have to move inch by inch.”