11 July 2024

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s transport minister removed on Wednesday the technical director of the Lion Air airline and several of its technicians after the crash of one of its jets with 189 people on board, the Antara news agency reported on Wednesday.

“Today we dismiss (the director) from his position and his duty,” Budi Karya Sumadi said, citing the accident on Monday as the reason. He said technicians were also dismissed.

It was not clear whether the removal was permanent or temporary.

Lion Air’s chief executive, Edward Sirait, told Reuters he had not heard of the minister’s order.

Meanwhile, Indonesian search and rescue workers believe they have found the fuselage of the ill-fated jet and are also trying to confirm the origin of an underwater “ping” signal, officials said on Wednesday.

Ground staff lost touch with flight JT610 of Indonesian budget airline Lion Air 13 minutes after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 took off early on Monday from Jakarta, on its way to the tin-mining town of Pangkal Pinang.

Indonesia’s military chief said he believed the plane had been located, and a transport safety official said divers would be sent to confirm the origin of a “ping” signal picked up by a search and rescue team late on Tuesday.

“We strongly believe that we have found a part of the fuselage,” armed forces chief Hadi Tjahjanto told broadcaster TV One.

Speaking on board the navy ship KRI Rigel, navy official Colonel Haris Djoko Nugroho told broadcaster TVOne that a 22-meter long object had been found in waters about 32 meters deep, and a sonar was being used to identify it.

Divers would also be sent to check, he said.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s single-aisle jet.

The plane’s blackboxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder are known, should help explain why the almost-new jet went down minutes after take-off.