Rescuers found 30 bodies with five of them still strapped to their seats as multi-national teams equipped with sophisticated equipment on Friday narrowed the search to a 5 sq km area of the choppy Java Seawhere some debris of the ill-fated AirAsia jet have emerged.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 en route from Indonesia’s Surabaya city to Singapore with 162 passengers and crew onboard mysteriously crashed on Sunday.
Rear Marshal Henry Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said that 21 of the 30 bodies have been recovered today.
“There are two main tasks in this priority sector: First, to locate the biggest part of the plane’s body.
“The second task is to find the position of the black boxes, or flight recorders, which will be carried out by the KNKT (National Transport Safety committee) which start working today,” he said at a press conference.
Col. Yayan Sofiyan, commander of the Indonesian warship Bung Tomo, told local MetroTV that the five of the bodies were found still strapped in their seats.
The Indonesian Navy vessel today detected an object suspected to be the tail of the plane, MetroTV reported.
Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) director of operations S B Supriyadi said the search was now focused on a 5 sq km area of the sea where debris had been emerging.
“We are focusing on this 5 sq km of the sea where debris kept emerging. We picked up debris on that area earlier, including an escape slide, but then more emerged,” he said.
However, strong wind and heavy seas was again hindering search for the fuselage of the plane.
Soelistyo said bad weather was a worry, with forecast of rain, strong winds and high waves till Sunday. He said today’s operations was focused on an area of 1,575 nautical square miles, with 29 ships and 17 aircraft engaged in the operation.
The Frog Troops will dive to the bed of the Java Sea as the joint Search and Rescue (SAR) operation team believes that many of the passengers of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are still strapped into their seats in the plane wreckage.
“Divers are already on standby at the navy ship Banda Aceh to dive on that priority area to locate the body of the plane,” he said. “I hope we’ll get a significant result today.”
“We will focus on underwater detection,” said Soelistyo, as international experts from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, France and the US equipped with sophisticated acoustic detection gear also joined the search.