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Divers Find Silkair Crash ‘Black Box’ Flight Data Recorder May Help Unravel Wreck Of Boeing 737-300 In Indonesia That Killed 104

Sun., Dec. 28, 1997

Working in zero visibility and guided by sonar readings, divers found one of two “black box” recorders Saturday be longing to a jetliner that crashed into a muddy Sumatran river Dec. 19.

Information from the retrieved flight data recorder, could help explain why the SilkAir Boeing 737-300 plunged into the Musi River, killing all 104 people aboard.

The black box was found in about 30 feet of water in the area where the Singapore-owned plane hit the river and disintegrated halfway through a flight from Jakarta to Singapore.

The box was to be flown to the United States today for analysis, the official Antara news agency reported, quoting Indonesia’s transportation minister, Haryanto Dhanutirto.

Indonesian investigators have neither the expertise nor the facilities to analyze the flight recorder, which tracks a plane’s speed, altitude and flying angle before a crash.

An accompanying voice recorder, which records sounds and radio conversations in the cockpit, remained missing, according to an officer at the Search and Rescue Post at Palembang Airport near the crash site.

Indonesian and Singapore officials agreed Saturday that mainly unidentified human remains found by divers should be buried in a common grave near the crash site, about 250 miles northwest of Jakarta.

Indonesian President Suharto had agreed to the concept of a common grave, Dhanutirto said. Singapore officials would have to agree to the location.

Singapore’s Transport Minister Mah Bow Tan, who visited the site Friday, said he supported the plan for a common grave as long as the relatives of the victims agreed.

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