Divers 'find black box' of crashed AirAsia jet

The tail of AirAsia QZ8501 passenger plane is seen on the deck of the Indonesian Search and Rescue ship. (Reuters)

Indonesian divers Sunday found the black box of the AirAsia plane which crashed in the Java Sea a fortnight ago with 162 people aboard, the transport ministry said.

But they failed to retrieve it because it was stuck under debris from the main body of the plane, it added.

"The navy divers in Jadayat state boat have succeeded in finding a very important instrument, the black box of AirAsia QZ8501," said Tonny Budiono, a senior ministry official.

Earlier, Indonesian search teams said they believe a sonar scan had detected the fuselage of the AirAsia airliner that crashed two weeks ago, according to a senior official said.

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control during thundery weather on Dec. 28, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors.

Searchers have also been hearing pings, believed to be from the aircraft's black box flight recorders, near where the tail of the Airbus A320-200 aircraft tail was raised on Saturday.

Supriyadi, operations coordinator for the National Search and Rescue Agency, said a sonar scan had revealed an object measuring 10 meters by four meters by 2.5 meters on the sea floor.

"They suspect it is the body of the plane. There is a big possibility that the black box is near the body of the plane," Supriyadi told Reuters in the town of Pangkalan Bun, the base for the search effort on Borneo.

"A team of divers has already been sent to prove this data. The diving operation has started," he said.

Forty-eight bodies have been found in the Java Sea off Borneo and searchers are still hunting for the plane's fuselage, which could contain more bodies.

Strong winds, currents and high waves have been hampering efforts to reach other large pieces of suspected wreckage detected by sonar on the sea floor.

Another official involved in the search said three ships had detected pings about 4 km (two miles) from where the plane's tail was raised on Saturday, in water about 30 meters deep.

If and when the recorders are found and taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis, it could take up to two weeks to download data, investigators said, although the information could be accessed in as little as two days if the devices are not badly damaged.

On Saturday, teams of divers in rubber dinghies battled the swell to attach inflatable balloons to the tail section, which was later hauled onto a rescue vessel.

The aircraft carries cockpit voice and flight data recorders - or black boxes - near its tail but once the wreckage was visible, it quickly became apparent that the flight recorders were still underwater.

While the cause of the crash is not known, the national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely to be a factor.

President Joko Widodo, who took office in late October, said the crash exposed widespread problems in the management of air transport in Indonesia.

(Agencies)

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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