Saturday, 3 January 2015

Search team recovers 30 bodies from missing AirAsia flight

Colonel Yayan Sofiyan, commander of the warship Bung Tomo, says five of the victims were found still strapped in their seats when they were retrieved from the Java Sea and taken to an Indonesian vessel on Friday.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that a French investigation team will use sonar equipment and metal detectors to scour the seabed for wreckage, including the plane's black box - which could reveal what caused the tragedy.

Rescuers hope the fuselage - if intact - will contain the remains of many of the 162 people still missing after the plane travelling from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore vanished and later crashed on Sunday.

No survivors have been found and investigators hope the wreckage will be key to explaining what might have caused Flight QZ8501 to go down.

Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo, said: "We will focus on underwater detection."

He also explained that ships from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the US had been on the scene since before dawn today to try and pinpoint wreckage and the all-important flight data and cockpit voice recorders.

The data recorder contains crucial information such as engine temperature, vertical and horizontal speed and hundreds of other measurements.

The voice recorder would have captured conversations between pilots and other sounds coming from the cockpit.

Mr Soelistyo said bad weather, which has hindered the search for the past several days, remained a concern.

However he vowed to recover the bodies of "our brothers and sisters whatever conditions we face."

Drizzle and light clouds covered the area this morning, but rain, strong winds and high waves up to 4 metres (13 feet) were forecast until Sunday. Strong sea currents have also kept debris moving.

Meanwhile Toos Saniotoso, an Indonesian air safety investigator, said investigators "are looking at every aspect" as they try to determine why the plane crashed.

He added: "From the operational side, the human factor, the technical side, the ATC (air-traffic control) - everything is valuable to us."Several more bodies were recovered by a US Navy ship today, bringing the total found to 30.

Four have been identified and returned to their families.

A helicopter from the USS Sampson brought the corpses to Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia - the town nearest to the plane's suspected crash site - where they were were unloaded and driven away in ambulances.

Meanwhile, a number of ships holding sensitive equipment arrived at the scene this morning to hunt for the plane's fuselage.

As the investigation continues nine planes, many with metal detecting equipment, have scoured a 13,500-square-kilometres (8,380-square-mile) area off Pangkalan Bun.

Two Japanese ships with three helicopters are also understood to be on their way.

The fuselage could be at an estimated 25 metres to 30 metres (about 80 feet to 100 feet) underwater.

Vice Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi said as soon as the wreckage is found, divers will be sent down to recover the passengers and crew.

Four crash victims have been identified and returned to their families.

They include the first, Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, who was found on Thursday and flight attendant Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi and passengers Kevin Alexander Soetjipto and Grayson Herbert Linaksita who were found on Friday.

The first burial took place yesterday after the body of female flight attendant Hayati Lutfiah Hamid was released, to weeping family members at a local hospital. Three other members of her family who were on board the flight have yet to be found.

Ms Hamid, 49, was buried in a traditional Islamic ceremony in a cemetery a few miles from the airport.

Saturday 3 January 2015


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