Piece of jetliner found in Indonesia
MAKASSAR, Indonesia – A fisherman found a piece of a Boeing 737 that disappeared more than 10 days ago, the first hard evidence that the plane carrying 102 people had crashed into the sea off northwestern Indonesia, a top search official said Thursday.The piece of tail from Adam Air Flight KI-574 was recovered Wednesday in the Makassar Strait, 185 miles off Sulawesi Island’s coast, said Eddy Suyanto, the head of search and rescue operations.Suyanto told reporters the serial number on the yard-long tail stabilizer matched the one given to the search and rescue teams by Boeing.No survivors or bodies have been recovered, Suyanto said.”This morning I would like to report the finding of a part of Adam Air,” Suyanto said, adding that the piece was discovered by a fisherman late Wednesday and handed over to authorities early Thursday.”The part is a tail horizontal stabilizer, the right side, with a length of about one meter (yard).”A U.S. Navy oceanographic survey ship arrived Wednesday in an area 125 miles from where the tail piece was found to determine whether separate metal objects found on the seabed there were also wreckage from the plane. The results of the U.S. investigation have not yet been made public.An Indonesian vessel located three pieces of debris on the Makassar Strait seabed after local fisherman told authorities they had spotted a low-flying, unstable aircraft in the area but lost sight of it after hearing a loud bang.The USNS Mary Sears, which has sonar and satellite imagery capabilities, was called in to see if the metal could be the remnants of the plane which fell off radars in the area during 80 mph winds on New Year’s day, Suyanto said Wednesday.The debris was roughly 2 1/2 miles from the West Sulawesi provincial capital of Mamuju at a depth of about 4,500 feet, he said.Rear Admiral Moekhlas Sidik, commander of the Eastern Indonesia Fleet, said the Mary Sears had confirmed one of the objects was “round-shaped metal,” but that more readings were needed to identify it.The pilot of the Adam Air plane, which left Java island for the North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado on Jan. 1, twice changed course because of rough weather but did not issue a mayday or report technical difficulties, officials said.With no emergency location signal to guide more than 3,600 soldiers, police and volunteers searching in the island’s dense jungles and surrounding seas, teams have fanned out over a nearly 30,000-square-mile area, almost the size of South Carolina.A U.S. National Transportation Safety Board team arrived late last week to aid in the search.After mistakenly claiming last week that the wreckage had been found with 12 survivors, officials were cautious in discussing the discovery of the underwater debris. It could be a sunken ship or something else, Suyanto told reporters.Three Americans – a man from Oregon and his two daughters – were among the plane’s 96 passengers. It was not clear if any other foreigners were on board.Adam Air is one of about 30 budget carriers that sprang up in Indonesia after the industry was deregulated in 1998. The rapid expansion has led to cheap flights throughout Indonesia, but has raised concerns about maintenance.
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