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Distraught families of Sriwijaya Air victims visit Java Sea crash site

Yuddy Cahya Budiman and Adi Kurniawan
·2-min read

By Yuddy Cahya Budiman and Adi Kurniawan

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Relatives of those killed in the Sriwijaya Air plane crash on Jan. 9 wept and threw red and white petals into the ocean on Friday after an Indonesian navy vessel took them to the site in the Java Sea where their loved ones perished.

Flight SJ 182 crashed minutes after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 62 people on board. Indonesian authorities on Thursday halted the search for victims, but said the hunt would continue for the jet's cockpit voice recorder (CVR).

"I recalled my brother's face as I threw the flowers," said Heri Purnomo, of his late brother Nurkholid Fatil Amin, a father of two. "Tears kept streaming down, it was as though his face was reflected from the sea's surface."

During the search and rescue operation in one of Indonesia's worst aviation disasters, divers retrieved wreckage from the plane and remains of the victims, which have been taken to a police hospital for DNA identification.

"We hope from the body parts that have been found they can identify our brother," Heri told reporters. "(So) we can bring his body to bury in Pontianak."

Sriwijaya Air Chief Executive Jefferson Irwin Jauwena, who was also on board the navy vessel, said the entire airline was deeply saddened by the crash.

"We also lost our family in the Sriwijaya Air Group. I am personally devastated by this incident," he said, noting the airline had pledged to provide assistance to the victim's families.

Indonesian transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi announced on Wednesday the families would receive 1.25 billion Indonesian rupiah ($89,000) per relative killed in the crash.

Indonesia's air accident investigator is probing whether a problem with the Boeing 737-500's autothrottle system, which controls engine power automatically, contributed to the fatal crash.

(Reporting by Ed Davies; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)