Piece of Missing Jetliner Found in Northwestern Indonesia

Parts of a jetliner that crashed with 102 people on board were found by fishermen off Sulawesi Island, an official and a media report said Thursday, 10 days after the plane disappeared in stormy weather, sparking a massive land and sea search.

A one-yard section of tail and the back of a seat were the first pieces of wreckage to be recovered from the Boeing 737, which vanished on New Year's Day, baffling crash investigators and adding to the anguish of relatives of those on board.

Eddy Suyanto, the head of search and rescue operations, said the serial number on the tail — found 300 meters off the western coast of Sulawesi — confirmed it was part of Adam Air Flight KI-574.

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Metro TV showed pictures of a commercial airplane seat and an orange life jacket found in waters nearby and apparently from the jetliner. A police officer told the station he had asked fishermen to try and find more debris.

No survivors or bodies have been found, Suyanto said.

The jetliner left Java island for the North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado on Jan. 1. The pilot twice changed course after battling 80 mph winds but did not issue a mayday or report technical difficulties before dropping off the radar halfway into his two-hour flight.

With no emergency location signal to guide more than 3,600 soldiers, police and volunteers searching in Sulawesi's dense jungles and surrounding seas, teams have fanned out over a nearly 30,000-square-mile area.

A day after the plane's disappearance, authorities falsely reported finding its wreckage along with 12 survivors in a remote mountainous district on Sulawesi, outraging relatives of those on board.

On Monday, authorities said a Navy ship had detected large pieces of metal on the seabed off Sulawesi north of Wednesday's find, but were unable to say whether they were from the downed plane.

The USNS Mary Sears, which has sonar and satellite imagery capabilities, is scanning the debris to determine whether it came from the plane. Its findings have not yet been made public.

Local fisherman told authorities they had spotted a low-flying, unstable aircraft in the area but lost sight of it after hearing a loud bang.

Suyanto said wreckage from the plane could have drifted hundreds of miles over the last 10 days.

Adam Air is one of about 30 budget carriers that sprang up in Indonesia after the industry was deregulated in 1998. The rapid expansion has led to cheap flights throughout Indonesia, but has raised concerns about maintenance.

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