Plane Memorial Delayed as Relatives Cling to Hope

JAKARTA ~ A commemorative ceremony for the 102 people on board an Adam Air plane that vanished on New Year’s Day was postponed on Tuesday after relatives said they had not abandoned all hope.

Last week, a US Navy ocean survey ship found the black box flight recorders from the Boeing 737-400 on the ocean floor off the west coast of Sulawesi at a depth of around 2,000 meters.

Officials had planned to take relatives of the 96 passengers and six crew out on a ship on Tuesday to lay flowers on the sea above where debris believed to be from the plane has been found.

“We all think it’s still too difficult for us. We’re not ready yet,” Titus Wemmy, who had relatives on board, said.

He said many relatives of those on board the plane still had doubts that the debris found on the ocean floor really was from the aircraft.

“We’re not yet feeling really sure as long as no one has the black box or larger parts of the planes,” he said.

A section of tailfin found by a fisherman is the largest piece of the plane found so far. Dozens of fragments and other debris such as tray tables have been washed up on beaches or plucked from the sea, but no larger wreckage or bodies have been retrieved.

The airline and the search and rescue agency were now proposing to take the relatives out to conduct a ceremony at the site on Friday, Wemmy said.

“There will be a meeting between the airline and us, the relatives, on Friday morning and depending on the results of the meeting, we may go on Friday afternoon,” Wemmy said.

He said he thought the airline and search and rescue officials would try to convince the relatives that the debris found on the seabed really was the wreckage of the missing aircraft.

Search and rescue officials confirmed the ceremony had been postponed.

“No, it’s not going on today (Tuesday) and we don’t yet have a date for when it may be held,” said Second Lieutenant Sriyanto from the Search and Rescue Centre in Makassar.

Transport Minister Hatta Rajasa said on Monday that Indonesia did not have the technology to retrieve objects from such a great depth and was looking to the United States, France or Japan for help in recovering the black boxes.

In comparison, the wreck of the Titanic, which sank in 1912, was located at a depth of 3,800 meters using an unmanned submersible.

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