Stormy weather halts search in AirAsia crash

‘Shadow’ believed to be that of the missing plane was reportedly spotted on the seabed

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Stormy weather on Wednesday grounded Indonesian planes and helicopters seeking to recover more bodies in the AirAsia plane crash.

Officials were forced to suspend aerial missions as heavy rain and low visibility made it difficult to recover bodies four days after the Airbus A320-200 disappeared from the radar en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, Reuters news agency reported.

“I went to the search area this morning and saw there was no way we could do a search,” said Dwi Putranto, a senior air force official.

“Now we are standing by in case remains can be evacuated," he said, adding that over 100 divers and rescue workers were "ready to search."

Air force rescue coordinator S.B. Supriyadi told AFP: "We are experiencing bad weather now. Rains and winds prevented us from resuming the search operation this morning,"

The plane crashed into the Java Sea southwest of the island of Borneo, with debris including an exit door and a blue suitcase so far retrieved from the area.

A navy spokesman told AFP on Tuesday that more than 40 bodies had been recovered, but he later said that report was a miscommunication by his staff.

During Tuesday's searches, an air force plane saw a "shadow" on the seabed believed to be that of the missing flight, where all search efforts are now being concentrated, Soelistyo said.

President Joko Widodo met the passengers' relatives in Surabaya on Tuesday, where a crisis centre has been set up, and he promised to ensure a massive search.

Flamboyant AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes also visited the centre and said he was experiencing an airline chief executive's "worst nightmare."

"This is a scar with me for the rest of my life," he told reporters.

Relatives of passengers on the plane began crying hysterically and fainting on Tuesday as Indonesian television footage showed a body floating in the sea during aerial searches.

[With AFP]