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54 bodies, black box, money found at Trigana plane crash site

54 bodies, black box, money found at Trigana plane crash site
WEDNESDAY, August 19, 2015

Jayapura, Jakarta - The bodies of all 54 people aboard the Trigana Air plane and the aircraft's black box, as well as most of the bank notes worth a total of Rp 6.5 billion (US$470,000), have been found in a forested area near Oksibil city of Papua, on Tu

“Today, the duty of the SAR team members is complete, as all the victims have been found, including the black box, which is in safe custody at the location,” said the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), Indonesian Military (TNI) Air Force Air Marshal FHB Sulistyo, at the operational base on the Jayapura Airbase in Papua.

Regarding the cash being carried by Jayapura Post Office employees as social assistance funds, Sulistyo said the money had been found, with some of the bank notes in damaged conditions and some intact.

“The money has also been secured by the SAR team at the location. The money is not the focus of Basarnas, but it will be handed over to the authorities,” said Sulistyo.

The ill-fated Trigana Air ATR 42 plane was on its way from Sentani Airport in Jayapura at 2:22 p.m. on Sunday and was supposed to have arrived at Oksibil Airport at 3:15 p.m. However, it failed to land. It lost contact with the air traffic control tower (ATC) in Jayapura at 2:37 p.m. and with the ATC in Oksibil at 2:55 p.m.

It was carrying 54 on board, including five crew members. Of the 49 passengers, two were children and three were infants.

However, as of Tuesday evening the remains of the 54 people on board were still at the crash site as they could not be taken out of the area because of bad weather.

“The remains have been placed in body bags and are ready to be removed, but thick fog has covered the location, so we could not resume the removal process,” said Sulistyo.

The removal process will resume on Wednesday. Until then, the 58-strong SAR team would stay at the location.

“The joint SAR team is at the location guarding the 58 body bags. The removal process will resume if weather permits,” said Sulistyo.

The removal, added Sulistyo, would still be carried out by air, that being the quickest way.

Two helicopters are currently on standby at the Oksibil Airport to carry out the operation.

All the victims will be airlifted to the Oksibil Airport and later flown to Jayapura for identification by the Papua Police Disaster Victim Identification team at the Bhayangkara Police Hospital.

The National Police’s health and medical department head Brig. Gen. Arthur Tampi said on Tuesday that three specialists had been sent to Papua to help with the identification of victims.

“We sent three specialists: a forensics expert, a forensic dentistry expert and a DNA expert. We may send more if needed,” he said.

Arthur explained that the bodies of the victims would be flown by helicopter to the Bhayangkara Hospital in Jayapura, Papua, to undergo autopsies.

Furthermore, he said that the police had already received DNA samples from the family members of 45 of the victims in order to help identify them quicker.

“We will also gather the medical records [of the victims] and photos from their families.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday many parties praised the search and recovery efforts.

“We thank the joint SAR team, led directly by the Basarnas head, for locating the plane and victims in less than 48 hours. The government expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims over the tragedy,” said Transportation Minister Ignatius Jonan.

Earlier on Tuesday Jonan met relatives of victims and told them the plane crash had not been caused by the weather because, according to BMKG, the weather was fine at the time.

“The crash was definitely not due to bad weather because based on a report from the BMKG, the weather was fine when the plane crashed. Another plane landed safely at the Oksibil Airport at that time,” said Jonan.

Papua provincial secretary Hery Dosinaen also expressed his appreciation for Basarnas’ locating the victims and the blackbox in such a short time, keeping in mind the rough terrain in Papua.