Fri, Jan 23, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Divers find bodies belted in seats near AirAsia jet fuselage

AFP, PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia

Indonesian divers yesterday found five bodies still belted into their seats near the main section of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea last month with 162 people on board and are hopeful of reaching the fuselage.

A total of 58 bodies have now been found following the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which went down on Dec. 28 last year in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

“Our divers found five bodies buried in mud, close to the plane fuselage. They were still belted to their seats,” said S.B. Supriyadi, a rescue agency official coordinating the search. “We believe they spilled out of the fuselage, which is 50 to 100 meters away.”

Three bodies had been retrieved and taken to the warship Banda Aceh, while the other two were still being recovered, he said.

He added that divers had yet to reach the main section of the plane, which is thought to contain the bulk of passengers and crew, as visibility under water was only 2m.

“However, it is a bright, clear day, so we remain optimistic that the divers might reach the wreckage today [Thursday],” he said.

The main body of the Airbus A320-200 was spotted on the seabed by a military vessel last week following an arduous search in shallow Indonesian waters, but strong underwater currents and rough seas have prevented divers from reaching it.

The jet’s black boxes were recovered last week and investigators are analyzing them.

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan this week said that the plane climbed abnormally fast before stalling and plunging into the sea.

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