Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency (Basarnas) said on Sunday that it has found the wreckage of a police plane that crashed in the waters off Lingga Island of Riau Islands province.
“We have found the plane’s wreckage at 24 meters deep just before the rescue operation was called off at 5 pm. It’s about three meters long,” agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said in a live interview with news broadcaster TV One.
“We didn’t find more human remains, but we have better chances to find more now that we discovered the wreckage,” he added.
The M28 Skytruck plane was carrying 13 police officers – three pilots, two mechanics and eight passengers – to Batam Island near Singapore from Pangkal Pinang when it lost contact just before noon at 5,000 feet on Saturday.
The plane lost contact with air traffic controller at 40 nautical mile southeast of Tanjung Pinang in Belitung Island.
Earlier in the day, Soelistyo told a press conference that rescuers have found parts of human remains. The remains were stored in three body bags and have been handed over the body bags to the police for identification.
The site where the plane has plunged 24 meter deep into the waters has been marked by a buoy.
Fishermen discovered plane debris at around 2.30 pm on Saturday and later in the day, search and rescue team identified the crash location from the bubbles believed to be from the plane’s fuel.
Among the items retrieved from the waters were a tire of a plane, a piece of an airplane upholstery and the plane’s red box and manual box. Photos from the agency also showed rescuers retrieving parts of police uniforms and photos of police officers.
Two warships and two Singaporean aircrafts were among the 15 vessels helping with the search-and-rescue mission, alongside 300 personnel including divers, across a 200-nautical-mile search area, Soelistyo added.
“We will continue the main rescue operation for seven days, but we will evaluate it after the first three days, which is the critical part,” he said.