POLEWALI, Indonesia – Indonesian air force planes took to the skies and navy ships scoured the sea today, searching for a missing jetliner and its passengers, including an Oregon man and his two daughters.
After a fruitless day of searching Wednesday, rescuers resumed their duties today. Earlier this week, officials wrongly reported finding the Boeing 737’s wreckage and a dozen survivors, causing anguish among the passengers’ families.
Gen. Eddy Suyanto, the Indonesian air force officer in charge of the search, said today that the weather was clear but that wind, rain and clouds forecast for later in the day would likely bring a halt to the air mission.
“Search efforts have expanded, they’re more sophisticated … but they haven’t discovered anything as far as they’ve told me,” the girls’ mother, Felice Jackson DuBois, of Bend, Ore., said by telephone Wednesday. “It’s still a zero at this point.”
The Adam Air plane with 102 on board was flying from Indonesia’s main island of Java to North Sulawesi Island’s provincial capital of Manado when it disappeared Monday.
Flying in stormy weather, the aircraft vanished after sending out distress signals – the first over forested mountains and the second along the coast.
Among the passengers was Scott Jackson, a 54-year-old representative of the wood products industry, and his daughters, 21-year-old Stephanie and 18-year-old Lindsey. Both daughters are students at the University of Oregon.
“Anytime I hear that they’re going on an airplane, yes, I’m scared,” their mother told the Oregonian newspaper. “But you can’t live your life guided by your fears. You just want to hold out hope.”
Rescuers spent the first day climbing steep trails in western Sulawesi Island – and only later ackowledged that they had been chasing rumors from villagers about burning wreckage and survivors.
“It’s hard to ferret out the rumor from the facts,” DuBois said. “All we can do is wait.”
Authorities expanded their search to the Makasar Strait on Wednesday, as three navy ships set sail just after sunrise, and five air force planes searched a 300-square-mile area. Clear skies early in the day were replaced by rain and strong winds and more storms were forecast for Thursday.
Singapore has agreed to join the search and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board team was to arrive Friday.