Lion Air crash: On ill-fated plane's previous flight, pilot made distress call

Sangeeta Suneja mother of Bhavye Suneja a pilot of Lion Air flight JT610 leaves New Delhi for Jakarta

Indonesia on Tuesday stepped up its search for passengers of an airliner that plunged into the sea, deploying underwater beacons to trace the flight's black box recorders in a bid to uncover why an almost-new plane crashed minutes after takeoff.

A diver named Hendra aboard search vessel Baruna Jaya told Metro TV, "We dug and we got the black box".

Isswarto, commander of the Indonesian navy's search-and-rescue division who only uses one name, said: 'They're scattered everywhere and some may have been washed away by the current'.

The accident has also resurrected concerns about Indonesia's poor air safety record which until recently saw the country's carriers facing years-long bans from entering European Union and U.S. airspace. It was displayed inside a clear container submerged in water to prevent damage from rapidly drying out.

"Today we will remove Lion Air's technical director from his duties", the airline said in the statement.

The data it holds should provide clues to what went wrong.

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On Thursday, authorities said they had recovered one of the plane's black boxes, which airlines are required to install in jets, as well as parts of its landing gear.

"The currents below the sea are still strong which makes it hard for divers, but they persistently faced it", he said.

More than 60 body bags containing human remains have been sent to police medical experts for identification since the search began, but as of Thursday only one victim has been identified and buried.

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Her father and others knelt by the grave, which was sprinkled with red, white and yellow flowers, and prayed.

Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are taking part in the probe.

Lion Air has said the unspecified problem was fixed after Sunday's flight, but the fatal flight's pilots also made a "return to base" request not long after takeoff. Safety experts caution, however, that the data must be checked for accuracy against the flight data recorder.

The pilot on the earlier flight requested permission to turn back after take-off because of technical problems.

Earlier, Budi said Lion Air flight JT610, which served the Jakarta-Pangkal Pinang route, had been certified airworthy and had a valid airworthiness certificate and aircraft registration on the day of the accident.

More than four days after Lion Air flight JT610 carrying 189 people lost contact, Indonesian search crews have fished out little else than small pieces of the aircraft, body parts of victims and personal belongings.

There is as yet no indication of what caused the crash but the aircraft is believed to have experienced technical problems on its previous flight.

A witness in the Karawang district said he had heard an explosion from the beach around the time the aircraft went down. Meanwhile, several officials of the company have been suspended in the wake of Indonesia's most severe flight disaster in the last 20 years.

Two passengers on the Sunday Bali-bound flight interviewed on Indonesian TV recalled unsettling details such as a unusual engine sound, a smell of burnt cables, and panicked passengers crying out for God to save them as the plane rapidly lost altitude.

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