Asia-Pacific

Indonesian diver dies searching for victims of Lion Air crash

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A diver has died while searching for the victims of the crashed Lion Air plane.

An Indonesian rescue diver has died in a search operation for a jet that crashed early this week near Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Syachrul Anto, 48, who died on Friday, was part of the team searching for body parts and debris from the jet in the Java Sea.

"He was a volunteer with the Search and Rescue Agency," Isswarto, commander of the Indonesian navy's search and rescue division, told AFP.

It is believed he died from decompression.

"He was found by the SAR team, fainted. He was treated by our doctors, after he regained consciousness, we sent him to the chamber for decompression.

"We have all the equipment, however God's will says differently," national search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi said at a press conference.

An Indonesian official inspects a recovered wheels of the crashed Lion Air flight JT610.
An Indonesian official inspects a recovered wheels of the crashed Lion Air flight JT610.
AAP

"Deepest condolences for the passing of a humanitarian hero from the Indonesian Diving Rescue Team," chief officer Muhammad Syaugi said in a news release.

Among other missions, Anto was also one of the main divers involved in the search for an AirAsia jet that crashed off Borneo in late 2014.

Rescue divers have been crucial in recovering human remains and pieces of the wrecked near-new Boeing Co. 737 MAX that smashed into the sea early on Monday, 13 minutes after it took off from Jakarta.

As of Saturday a total of 73 body bags, few containing intact remains, had been recovered but only four of the victims had been identified.

Chief of National Search and Rescue Agency Muhammad Syaugi.
Chief of National Search and Rescue Agency Muhammad Syaugi.
AAP

Assistance from other countries

Two days after the flight data recorder was recovered, investigators at Indonesia's national transportation safety committee have yet to download the key data due to salt residue on the memory card.

Nurcahyo Utomo, head of aircraft transport accident investigation at the NTSC said, said there were "some obstacles" and the process required more time than expected.

The committee has been receiving help from their American counterparts at the US National Transportation Safety Board, but will be getting additional assistance from Australia, Utomo added.

"This afternoon, investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau will arrive to help download the black box data", he said.

Saudi Arabia has also asked for permission to send an observer, but to learn from the whole process and not to assist, Utomo added. 

Lion Air's admission that the doomed jet had a technical issue on a previous flight -- as well its abrupt fatal dive -- have raised questions about whether it had mechanical faults specific to the new model.

Founded in 1999, Lion Air is a budget airline operating in Indonesia and in some parts of Southeast Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

But it has been plagued by safety concerns and customer complaints over unreliable scheduling and poor service.

The carrier has been involved in a number of incidents including a fatal 2004 crash and a collision between two Lion Air planes at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.

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