Carlos Roy Fajarta & Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesian authorities have officially ended the search and rescue operation for the downed Sriwijaya Air SJ-182 on Thursday after 13 days of combing the crash site in the waters of Thousand Islands.
National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief Bagus Puruhito said authorities have retrieved 324 body bags, 68 small debris of the aircraft, and 55 large wreckages. The police's disaster victim identification (DVI) team so far has identified 43 victims and will soon announce another 7 people.
"After technical considerations, as well as [considering] the search effectiveness in the field and meeting with the victims' families, on January 21 at 5.00 p.m., the search operation for the SJ-182 flight has officially come to an end," Bagus said at the Jakarta International Container Terminal (JICT) II at Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta on Thursday, as quoted by Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu.
Authorities will continue to actively monitor the incident. They will also immediately investigate any body remains or wreckage found by the public, Bagus said.
The initial joint search and rescue operation kicked off at Jan. 9, 2021, when reports of the missing airplane first came in. The first phase lasted for seven days. Afterwards, authorities decided to extend the operation twice with three additional days in each extension.
"This evening, we have ended the search and rescue operation. However, we are committed to support the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) to complete their investigation," Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said.
"We have agreed with the Indonesian Navy chief, the military, and police to hold a follow-up operation with the home base in Lancang Island," he said.
According to the minister, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed them to find the still-missing cockpit voice recorder (CVR) flash memory, as it will be crucial for the investigation.
So far, the police has handed 32 bodies to the victims' families. The airline Sriwijaya Air and state-owned insurance company Jasa Raharja already have the beneficiaries' rights fulfilled.
Sriwijaya Air has compensated Rp 1.5 billion (or around $107,080) per passenger. The 2011 Transportation Ministry regulation obligates an airline to compensate Rp 1.25 billion per passenger who died in an aircraft accident. Sriwijaya then offered another Rp 250 million.
Jasa Raharja has compensated Rp 50 million to the heirs for each passenger, in accordance with the 2017 Finance Minister regulation.