Sinister procession: Indonesian families victims of the accident donate blood for DNA comparison

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Jakarta (AFP)

Relatives of the victims of the plane crash in Indonesia formed a dark procession on Tuesday in a morgue in Jakarta, to donate blood so that investigators can try to match their DNA with body parts taken from the dark depths from the Java Sea.

Dozens of bags full of human remains arrive every day in the aftermath of Saturday’s crash.

The Sriwijaya Air flight struck the sea just four minutes after takeoff, having plunged to about 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) in less than a minute.

It is an agonizing wait for some families, who still hope for survivors among the 62 people who were on board, including 10 children.

“We haven’t accepted it yet,” Inda Gunawan said of her married brother Didik Gunardi, who was on the Boeing 737-500.

“Our family hopes for a miracle that he is still alive. ”

But Gunawan, like dozens of others, gave a blood sample in a makeshift tent outside the Jakarta Mortuary, the darkly named postmortem command post.

“At first, I didn’t believe the news of the accident,” Gunawan continued.

“But then I saw the passenger manifesto. We were in shock. ”

Emma Yusja, 54, whose hairdresser daughter Syifa Kamila was in Jakarta to buy supplies for her salon, was also praying against all odds.

But she too gave blood in a hospital in Pontianak on the island of Borneo, the flight’s intended destination.

“We gave samples,” she told AFP.

“I still hope for a miracle that my daughter is alive, but I will accept whatever Allah decides for us. ”

– ‘Perfect husband’ –

Funeral traditions in Indonesia, the world’s largest predominantly Muslim nation, demand a speedy burial of the dead.

But the identification process could take weeks or more.

Some 300 forensic examiners and other trained personnel sort through the remains, collect blood samples as well as anything that might help match them with the passengers on board.

On Monday evening, flight attendant Okky Bisma, 29, became the first confirmed victim after investigators compared the fingerprints of a recovered hand to those of a government identity database.

“Rest in peace up there honey and wait for me… in heaven,” Bisma’s wife Aldha Refa wrote on Instagram.

“Thank you for being the perfect husband when you were on earth. ”

Rapin Akbar, who donated blood at the Jakarta mortuary, had five relatives on board. They included his older sister, as well as his nephew, his nephew’s wife and their seven month old baby.

“I hope they find the bodies quickly so that we can bring them back … for burial,” Akbar said in shock.

“(My nephew) had planned to return to Pontianak on Sunday but changed his mind and decided to fly on Saturday instead.

“He called me to tell me the flight had been delayed and sent me a picture of their baby. It was (their) first. ”

Among the other passengers on board were a pair of newlyweds, who were returning to Pontianak for a family wedding celebration.

While loved ones may want answers quickly, investigators said they were sticking to getting it right.

“Precision rather than speed is the priority,” said Ahmad Fauzi, deputy head of the disaster identification team.

“It’s better to be slow and correct than fast and wrong. ”

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