Date
11 December 2017
Bad weather forced divers to abort a search mission Sunday for the sunken wreckage of the AirAsia passenger jet off the southwest coast of Borneo. Authorities have so far recovered 34 bodies from the crash area. Photo: Reuters
Bad weather forced divers to abort a search mission Sunday for the sunken wreckage of the AirAsia passenger jet off the southwest coast of Borneo. Authorities have so far recovered 34 bodies from the crash area. Photo: Reuters

Bad weather slows search for AirAsia plane wreckage

Bad weather forced Indonesian authorities to conduct underwater search operations for the wreckage of the crashed AirAsia jetliner only briefly on Sunday, with officials also saying that they are yet to pick up any signals from the plane’s “black box”.

A week after the Airbus A320 crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people aboard, Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency said sonar imaging revealed a fifth large object — measuring nearly 10 meters in length - in a search area off the southwest coast of Borneo, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Earlier on Saturday, the agency said that it had found four main parts of the jetliner, with the largest measuring about 18 meters, on the seafloor. Divers haven’t made contact with that wreckage.

Bambang Soelistyo, the agency’s head, was quoted as saying Sunday that his team couldn’t deploy a remotely operated vehicle in the search area because currents are moving faster than the machine allows.

A total of 34 bodies had been recovered as of the evening of Jan. 4, and all had been sent to Surabaya, where the flight originated. But operations slowed overall on Sunday, with the weather allowing divers to enter the water only briefly.

“If we look at the forecast for tomorrow [Monday], we’re hopeful,” Soelistyo was quoted as saying. he added that his priority is to send divers to the areas of wreckage, while five ships will search for the plane’s black box data recorders.

Flight 8501 lost contact with air-traffic control on the morning of Dec. 28 less than an hour into its trip to Singapore from Surabaya. Icing was the most likely weather-related cause for the crash, meteorological experts said.

Indonesian officials, meanwhile, said over the weekend that AirAsia didn’t have a permit to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route on Dec. 28.

The airline was allowed to fly the route only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, authorities said. The company’s flights from Surabaya to Singapore have been suspended.

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RC

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