Divers on Thursday recovered a flight data recorder from the crashed Lion Air jet on the seafloor, a crucial development in the investigation into what caused the 2-month-old plane to plunge into Indonesian seas earlier this week, killing all 189 people on board. One TV station showed footage of two divers after they surfaced, swimming to an inflatable vessel and placing the bright orange device into a large container that was transferred to a search-and-rescue ship. Navy Col. Monang Sitompul told local TV an object believed to be the aircraft's fuselage was also seen on the seafloor. The device recovered by divers is the flight data recorder and the search for the cockpit voice recorder continues, says Bambang Irawan, an investigator with the National Transport Safety Commission.
The location of the find was about 500 yards northwest of the coordinates where the plane lost contact and at a depth of 30 yards, says search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi. "The currents below the sea are still strong which make it difficult for divers, but they persistently face it," he says. Data from flight-tracking sites show the plane had erratic speed and altitude in the early minutes of a flight on Sunday and on its fatal flight Monday, the AP reports. Safety experts caution, however, that the data must be checked for accuracy against the flight data recorder. Several passengers on the Sunday flight from Bali to Jakarta on the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane have recounted problems that included a long-delayed takeoff for an engine check and terrifying descents in the first 10 minutes in the air. (The plane had logged just 800 hours of flying time.)