Musi dredging to end tomorrow


Singaporean and 3 other passengers identified.

DREDGING in the River Musi will stop tomorrow, ending more than two weeks of search and recovery operations in the murky waters where a SilkAir jetliner had crashed.

“The search has ended in terms of what we were looking for,” First Admiral Rosihan Arsyad, the Indonesian Western Fleet commander heading the operations, said yesterday.

“We found the two black boxes, crucial in the investigations. We also have to be realistic that there will not be any survivors.”

It was also revealed yesterday that four passengers have been identified so far. Besides Singaporean Colin Seet Cher Pheng, a Frenchman has also been identified as well as two others. They cannot be named as their next-of-kin have not been informed.

Meanwhile, the SilkAir Crisis Management Centre in Singapore announced that Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan wouldbe meeting the Indonesian Minister of Transport, Mr Hariyanto Dhanutirto, today in Palembang.

The two ministers will review the salvage operations as well as discuss the next phase of action.

In Palembang, First Admiral Rosihan noted that there were fewer finds from the river bed compared with the debris scooped up earlier by the dredge. “Many of the parts could have disintegrated to such small pieces that it is impossible to recover now.”

Mr Hariyanto told reporters separately at a news conference that teams had so far recovered 50 per cent of the Boeing 737-300’s twisted wreckage from the bottom of the river.

Despite the end of salvage work, a small team would stay on “indefinitely” to complete recovery of the debris, he said. “The dredgers will go. But some divers and rescuers will stay on for specific search efforts.”

First Admiral Rosihan said that the main Singapore and Indonesian naval ships at the crash site, almost 125 km from the south Sumatran capital of Palembang, would leave by today. However, some of the smaller ships would stay on to help with the operations.

The search was at first scheduled to last two weeks but was extended for another three days by Mr Hariyanto.

Mr Hariyanto arrived here yesterday to be briefed by rescuers and airline investigators. He said that the cockpit voice recorder found on Sunday would be sent to Washington today.

He said that it would be studied together with the flight data recorder found earlier.

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