10 days after crash, jetliner wreckage found in Indonesia

Parts of a jetliner that crashed while carrying 102 people were found by fishermen or washed to shore Thursday in northeast Indonesia.

jet wreckage 88 (photo credit: )
jet wreckage 88
(photo credit: )
Parts of a jetliner that crashed while carrying 102 people were found by fishermen or washed to shore Thursday in northeast Indonesia, 10 days after the plane disappeared in stormy weather without a trace. Though no bodies or survivors were found, family members said they were relieved as a section of the Boeing 737's tail, parts of the cockpit, seat and fuselage were pulled from waters off Sulawesi Island's western coast. "I cried when I heard, but I am now relieved," said Rosmala Dewi, whose daughter was a stewardess on the Adam Air flight that vanished New Year's Day, baffling crash investigators and sparking a massive search. "At the very least, we now have a sign (where the aircraft fell)." With no emergency locator beacon to guide rescuers, nearly 3,000 soldiers, police and civilians were deployed across a huge swath of Sulawesi's dense jungles, while sonar-equipped ships and planes spent days scouring the seas. After several false sightings, including one that prompted authorities to wrongly claim the plane's wreckage had been found with a dozen survivors, a fisherman pulled the tail's stabilizer from waters 300 meters (yards) off Sulawesi's coast. Eddy Suyanto, the head of search and rescue operations, said Thursday the serial number on the tail confirmed it was part of Adam Air Flight KI-574. Hundreds of people flocked to beaches close to the coastal town of Parepare, watching and in some cases joining in as soldiers, police, marines and fishermen searched the sea and combed the shore. A piece of a chair that said "fasten seat belt," a food table and part of a tire were among the objects handed over to authorities. The jetliner left Java island for the North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado on Jan. 1. The pilot twice changed course after battling 130 kph (80 mph) winds, but did not issue a mayday or report technical difficulties before dropping off the radar as it approached the western coast of Sulawesi. News that the plane's wreckage had been found comforted relatives. "Dead or alive, I just hope they find my brother," said Eki Rumaser, among dozens of anguished family members who have been waiting at airports and hotels since the plane disappeared. On Tuesday, authorities said a Navy ship had detected large pieces of metal on the seabed off Sulawesi, north of where debris washed up Thursday, but were unable to say whether they were from the downed plane. The USNS Mary Sears, which has sonar and satellite imagery capabilities, was taking part in the probe. But it was not clear if it would be able to definitely state what the metal was because of the water's depth. Local fisherman told authorities they had spotted a low-flying, unstable aircraft in the area but lost sight of it after hearing a loud bang. Suyanto said wreckage from the plane could have drifted hundreds of kilometers (miles) over the last 10 days. Three Americans - a man from Oregon and his two daughters - were among the plane's 96 passengers. They were believed to be the only foreigners on board. Adam Air is one of dozens of budget carriers that sprang up in Indonesia after the industry was deregulated in the 1990s. The rapid expansion has led to cheap flights throughout Indonesia, but has raised concerns about maintenance.