A 15-month-old girl travelling home with her parents after visiting relatives in Jakarta is believed to be the youngest victim of the Lion Air plane crash.
Kyara Putra is among those missing and presumed dead after the crash on Monday, along with father Rizal Gilang Sanusi Putra and mother Wita Seriani, both 26.
Gerian Sanusi Putra, Gilang’s brother, told reporters of their tragic plight as he waited for news at Jakarta’s international airport.
Rizal Gilang Sanusi Putra and wife Wita Seriani, both 26, were on board doomed Lion Air jet with their 15-month-old daughter Kyara when it crashed on Monday
The family had been visiting relatives in Jakarta and were returning home to Bangkakota on Monday when the plane went down shortly after 6am
Gilang’s brother, Gerian Sanusi Putra, flew to Jakarta on Monday and has been searching for news of the couple’s fate ever since (Gilang and Wita, pictured)
‘I’m confused. I really don’t understand what’s happening,’ 24-year-old Gerian told The Telegraph.
‘My mother died two months ago. Then this morning I was told that my only brother, the backbone of our family, was missing.’
Indonesian officials are still searching for the wreckage of Flight JT610 and the remains of the majority of its passengers, but officials have said they are not expecting to find survivors.
Gerian told of how he was at home near the city of Pangkal Pinang, where the doomed flight was headed, when he heard news of the crash.
Initially he tried to comfort himself with the thought that they would have been on the afternoon flight, because Wita had told him the night before that she planned to go shopping in Jakarta that morning.
But when details of the plane’s passenger manifest arrived via Whatsapp, he saw their names listed.
Gerian jumped on the first available flight to Jakarta, taking only his mobile phone, and has been hunting for news of his relatives ever since.
Indonesian officials said on Tuesday that the plane, a nearly-new Boeing 737 Max 8, had suffered engine trouble on the flight the day before the crash.
Passengers told how the aircraft had to be taken back to the gate after an ‘unusual roar’ from one of the engines, before it seemed to be losing power on take-off.
Indonesian authorities have not yet found the wreckage of the plane or the majority of its 189 passengers, but say they do not expect to find survivors (pictured, passenger’s belongings)
The bodies of at least 24 people have been fished from a debris field found floating in the ocean close to where the plane crashed, along with wallets and passports (pictured)
A wallet found floating in the ocean as part of a debris field close to where the jet crashed
Passengers who had flown on the doomed jet (pictured) the previous day said it had been suffering engine problems and seemed to be losing power during take-off
Alon Soetanto, a passenger on board the flight, told TVOne: ‘About three to eight minutes after it took off, I felt like the plane was losing power and unable to rise.
‘That happened several times during the flight. We felt like in a roller coaster. Some passengers began to panic and vomit.’
Indonesia has since ordered an inspection of all Boeing 737-MAX planes, but stopped short of grounding the new model.
Divers, drones and sonar technology was brought in on Monday to help search for the wreckage of the aircraft and its black box flight recorders.
‘Hopefully this morning we can find the wreckage or fuselage,’ Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of a national transport safety panel, told Reuters.
He added that underwater ‘pinger locators’, including equipment from Singapore, were being deployed to help find the aircraft’s black boxes.
The priority is finding the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder to help determine the cause of the disaster, safety experts said.
Although divers stopped searching overnight, sonar vessels and an underwater drone kept up the hunt for the wreckage, where many victims were feared trapped, officials said.
Only debris and body parts have been found off the shore of Karawang, east of Jakarta.
A Reuters witness on a boat at the crash site, saw teams of divers in black rubber suits enter the slightly choppy water from six inflatable boats.
‘The visibility is not good as it’s very overcast,â a special forces officer said, noting the dive team had started just after dawn and been down to a depth of 35 metres.
Underwater footage released by the national search and rescue agency showed relatively poor visibility. In all, 35 vessels are helping to search.
The plane took off shortly after 6am from Jakarta before the pilot asked to return to the airport, then lost contact with air traffic control
Search teams are using sonar, drones and diving teams in an effort to locate the wreckage and its black box recorders
Rescue teams prepare boats to join the search efforts near the crash site at Tanjung Karawang
A helicopter carrying the remains of some victims of the plane crash comes in to land at Tanjung Priok Harbour on Monday
Yusuf Latif, the spokesman of the search and rescue agency, had said on Monday finding survivors ‘would be a miracle’, judging by the condition of the recovered debris and body parts.
Lion Air said human remains were collected in 24 body bags after sweeps of the site, in waters about 30 to 35 metres (98 to 115 ft) deep roughly 15 km (nine miles) off the coast.
Officers at Jakarta’s port picked through personal belongings retrieved from the sea, including wallets, backpacks and papers, in a bid to help identify their owners.
Dozens of relatives gathered at a police hospital where body bags were brought for forensic doctors to try to identify victims.
Police were taking saliva swabs from family members of the missing for DNA tests and also seeking details on body markings like tattoos or birthmarks on the passengers.
A tent has been set up next to the hospital building and a middle age woman and a teenager sat together, sobbing and comforting each other.
The pilot of flight JT610 had asked to return to base shortly after take-off about 6.20 a.m. Investigators are trying to determine why the pilot issued the request, which was granted.
No distress signal was received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.
On Monday, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Boeing Co said they were providing assistance in the crash investigation.
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 workhorse single-aisle jet.
Two witnesses described the plane as swaying or rocking as it came down, adding that the nose hit the water first and there was a tall column of smoke afterwards.
The aircraft did not make a noise when it came down, they said.
‘From a long way off, it was already leaning,’ said Gauk, a fisherman who uses one name.
Privately owned Lion Air, founded in 1999, said the aircraft, which had been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having amassed 11,000 hours of flying time.
Indonesia’s worst air disaster was in 1997, when a Garuda Indonesia A300 crashed in the city of Medan, killing 234 people.