Pairs of small red children’s shoes, women’s high heels, wallets and empty backpacks line up in rows on the ground of Tanjung Priok port in North Jakarta.
For many families, these personal belongings — which have been fished from the sea — are heartbreaking evidence, confirming the fate of those who died on Indonesian Lion Air flight 610 that crashed on Monday.
On Wednesday, authorities started bringing relatives to the dockside to identify victims’ personal belongings, which lay piled up next to cushions and other debris that appeared to be from the aircraft.
Items fished out of the sea showed wallets and other personal effects, including a child’s Hello Kitty purse.
Epi Syamsul Qomar, whose 24-year-old son was on the flight, broke down into tears when he recognized his son’s shoe.
“I saw my son’s black sneaker,” he told CNN. “I also saw his bank checkbook.”
Qomar said he believes the body of his son, Muhammad Ravi Andriyan, is still inside the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
‘We will find his body’
Abdul Rahman, 49, whose son Ryan Aryandi was also onboard, said the 24-year-old was on his way to watch a soccer match.
Rahman told CNN that he had found his son’s shoes, as well as a black bag that was now empty. He added he will be relieved to find any part of his son’s body.
Qomar said he was hopeful about finding his son’s remains. “I still believe that we will find his body,” he said.
The flight, which was carrying 189 people, including three children, crashed 13 minutes after takeoff. It was supposed to be a one-hour flight to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka.
Indonesian investigators are still searching for the flight recorders that they hope will answer questions as to why the new aircraft went down.
Officials have begun bagging and tagging individual items when relatives identify them, and then taking them to a police hospital.
Others fail to find any sign of relatives’ belongings
Other families, however, haven’t been as fortunate in getting some sort of closure by finding their relatives’ belongings.
Mardiana Harahap, whose husband Muas Effendi Nasution was onboard, said she came to the port with her two daughters, son and brother in the hope of finding items that belonged to him. They weren’t successful.
Others, such as Nunik Hesti, 53, said they had no idea that relatives were onboard the flight.
She told CNN that she didn’t know her son, Wahyu Aldilla, 32, was in Jakarta and traveling back home to Pangkal Pinang.
Hesti said she was cooking when she received a call from another son who said something had happened to Aldilla.
“I saw the breaking news coverage on the plane crash. Reports said it lost contact and is currently 30-35 meters underwater,” she said. “I was like…Oh my God! My heart sank and I couldn’t continue cooking. I just lost it.”
Hesti was accompanied by her relatives to the Lion Air Crisis Center, where she submitted DNA swabs, and Aldilla’s toothbrush, comb and worn clothes to Disaster Victim Identification officials for analysis.
She told CNN that while Lion Air has provided accommodation and food while officials carry out investigations, most of the information she has received is from news reports she reads on her cellphone or watches on TV.