October 29, 2019 / 7:39 AM / 16 days ago

A year on from Lion Air crash, Indonesians pray, scatter petals for victims

JAKARTA, Oct 29 (Reuters) - One year on from the Lion Air plane crash that killed 189, relatives and friends of victims held prayer vigils and cast flower petals into the Java Sea at the site where the budget carrier’s Boeing 737 MAX jet went down beneath the waves.

The almost new Boeing Co aircraft had been flying from Jakarta to the town of Pangkal Pinang, on the Bangka-Belitung islands off Sumatra, when it crashed, just minutes after take-off.

Tuesday’s commemoration came days after Indonesian investigators issued their final report into the disaster, setting out Boeing’s failure to identify risks in the design of cockpit software and recommending better training for Lion Air’s pilots.

Some members of victims’ families were taken by boat to the crash site off the West Java town of Karawang to throw petals into the sea, an act of tribute relatives also performed on Nov. 8 last year.

In Pangkal Pinang, employees at the town’s tax office held special prayers for seven of their colleagues who died in the crash, according to tax office head Krisna Wiryawan.

A tribute video made by friends and colleagues included a slide show with photos of the victims in happier times.

“When the loved ones are gone, only memories remain. These memories will remain in our hearts,” read a message near the end of the video.

The fatal crash, followed within five months by another at Ethiopian Airlines, led to a global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX and a crisis for the world’s biggest planemaker, which last week ousted its commercial airplanes chief.

Indonesian regulators criticised the design of the 737 MAX’s anti-stall system, known as MCAS, which automatically pushed the plane’s nose down, leaving pilots fighting for control.

Investigators attributed the Lion Air crash to a number of factors, including design flaws and inadequate regulatory oversight, as well as errors by Lion Air pilots and engineers.

In a statement placed in Indonesian newspapers on Tuesday, , Boeing president and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said, “We are deeply sorry and grieve for the loss of life.”

“May God rest their souls in peace, provide strength to their families, and keep their memories alive,” he said.

Muilenburg also visited the Indonesian embassy in Washington on Monday to offer condolences ahead of testifying before the U.S. senate on Tuesday.

Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said she hoped the relatives of the victims would receive proper compensation for their loss.

In September, Boeing settled first claims with representatives of the family members. Three people familiar with the matter said family members are set to receive at least $1.2 million each.

That amount would be for a single victim without any dependents, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations on the subject were confidential. (Reporting by Jessica Damiana and Tabita Diela; Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and Kenneth Maxwell)

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