Bloomberg News

Indonesian Search Team Prepares to Airlift Crash Bodies

May 11, 2012

An Indonesian ground rescue team found 10 bodies where a Russian-made Sukhoi SuperJet 100 crashed into a mountainside two days ago. Photographer: Eric Piermont/AFP/GettyImages

An Indonesian ground rescue team found 10 bodies where a Russian-made Sukhoi SuperJet 100 crashed into a mountainside two days ago. Photographer: Eric Piermont/AFP/GettyImages

Bad weather forced an Indonesian search and rescue team to pause operations until tomorrow where a Russian-made Sukhoi SuperJet 100 crashed into a mountainside two days ago. Twelve bodies have been recovered, and no survivors have been found among the 45 that were on board.

The group of about 90 searchers cut through tropical jungle for more than a day yesterday, halting overnight before reaching the site today, Daryatmo, head of National Search and Rescue Agency, said at a press briefing today. Helicopter operations, which have been hampered by weather and difficult terrain, will resume tomorrow, he said.

“The evacuation preparation takes time as we’re talking about a vertical rescue,” Gagah Prakoso, a spokesman for the agency, said in a telephone interview today. He said the bodies may still be removed over ground.

A command post was set up in Cidahu to stage rescue efforts to the crash site on Mount Salak in West Java. About 600 people, including military and police, have been deployed in the search since the evening of May 9. As many as nine helicopters are on standby near the location, Prakoso said.

The aircraft’s data recorder has yet to be found, and the plane was probably not transmitting signals when it crashed, Prakoso said yesterday. The plane, which was conducting a promotional flight, disappeared from radar screens May 9 about 20 minutes after takeoff, carrying potential customers and journalists.

Femi Adi, a Bloomberg News reporter, is believed to have been among the passengers on the plane.

Russian Experts

The SuperJet disappeared after the crew asked air-traffic control for permission to descend to 6,000 feet from 10,000 feet, according to Daryatmo. The pilots didn’t explain the change of course. The weather was slightly rainy and there were no obvious signs of trouble, Daryatmo said.

A team from Russia made up of Yury Slyusar, the head of aviation at the industry and trade ministry, Sukhoi representatives and the transportation safety agency arrived in Indonesia last night. Indonesian authorities will lead the investigation with help from the Russian transport safety agency, Tatang Kurniadi, who heads the National Transportation Safety Committee, said in Jakarta yesterday.

The plane was on an Asian sales tour, which had included stops in Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. Further appearances were planned in Laos and Vietnam, according to Olga Kayukova, a spokeswoman for Sukhoi owner.

Criminal Probe

Russia opened a criminal probe into the crash, Interfax reported, citing the country’s Investigative Committee. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also ordered an investigation by the Industry Ministry, Foreign Ministry and state-controlled planemaker United Aircraft Corp.

The crash was probably caused by human error, acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told reporters in Nizhny Tagil, a Ural Mountains city, yesterday. Sukhoi has said that the jet was commanded by a “very experienced crew.”

The plane had no technical defects before the crash, Mikhail Pogosyan, head of Moscow-based manufacturing group United Aircraft Corp., said at a press briefing today at Halim Perdana airport, from where the aircraft took off.

The SuperJet has a “great future,” Rogozin said. Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry also sees no need to suspend flights, Interfax said yesterday, citing a ministry statement.

The twin-engine aircraft is spearheading attempts to revive Russia’s aerospace industry, which has languished since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The plane, which can carry about 100 people, was developed with Finmeccanica SpA (FNC)’s Alenia Aeronautica SpA. It has an operating range of as much as 4,578 kilometers (2,845 miles).

The plane is a challenger to regional jets built by Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B) and Embraer SA. (EMBR3), as well as to models being developed by Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yoga Rusmana in Jakarta at yrusmana@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Neil Denslow at ndenslow@bloomberg.net;


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