On Thursday morning local time, divers recovering debris and personal items from Lion Air Flight JT610 that crashed into the Java Sea just off the coast of Jakarta on Monday morning recovered a flight recorder from the aircraft.
Officials are hoping that the recovery of the device, commonly known as the “black box,” will help them answer questions as to why the 2-month-old plane went down, killing all 189 people on board the flight. According to TIME, a local television station caught footage of the moment the two divers emerged from the water with the device in hand.
Navy 1st Sgt. Hendra described the device’s recovery for the cameras.
“I was desperate because the current below was strong but I am confident of the tools given to me. After narrowing the possible location, I started digging and cleaning the debris until I finally found an orange object.”
Navy Col. Monang Sitompul told local news outlets that what is believed to be the plane’s fuselage has also been found at the bottom of the ocean. The black box will be examined by the National Transportation Safety Committee, according to search and rescue. Authorities are not yet certain whether the recovered device is the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 1, 2018
Muhammad Syaugi, head of the search and rescue agency, explained that the device was found approximately 500 yards from where the aircraft lost contact with the ground, indicating just how quickly things might have gone tragically wrong for the flight. Prior to the crash, online flight-tracking websites were picking up erratic data from the plane, showing both losses and gains in altitude and speed.
Passengers on the same aircraft traveling from Bali to Jakarta on Sunday reported that there was a long delay before the plane was allowed to depart, citing engine checks as the reason. In the first 10 minutes of the flight, they also reported terrifying losses in altitude.
Investigators are hoping to have a preliminary report regarding this horrific accident within a month, but caution that a full detailed report could take several months.
This accident is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997 when 234 people were killed after a Garuda flight crashed near Medan. More recently, an AirAsia flight went down in December 2014 en route to Singapore from Surabaya, with 162 dying in that accident.
As recently as 2007, Indonesian airlines were barred from flying to Europe over safety concerns, but that ban was completely lifted just four months ago. The U.S. also lifted its own decade-long ban on the Indonesian airline back in 2016.