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  1. Divers try to reach suspected AirAsia Flight QZ8501 wreck site

Divers try to reach suspected AirAsia Flight QZ8501 wreck site

Divers were grappling with light rain and rolling waves Sunday as they tried to reach what is believed to be the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501...

By: | Pangkalan Bun | Updated: January 4, 2015 10:30 AM
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The front side of debris resembling an aircraft window panel recovered by the Republic of Singapore Navy. (Reuters)

Divers were grappling with light rain and rolling waves Sunday as they tried to reach what is believed to be the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501, resting on the ocean floor near three other large objects.

So far, only 30 bodies have been recovered from last week’s crash and officials believe many of the remaining 132 passengers and crew are strapped to their seats inside the plane, said National Search and Rescue deputy chief Tatang Zainudin.

”We are racing with time and weather in running this mission,” he said, as early morning clear skies slowly became overcast.

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Chief of National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) F. Henry Bambang Soelistyo is silhouetted by a projection showing a sonar image of one of the large objects detected on the ocean floor and believed to be part of the wreckage of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 during a press conference in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP)

The plane went down in the Java Sea on Dec. 28, halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore. Minutes before losing contact, the pilot told air traffic control that he was approaching threatening clouds, but was denied permission to climb to a higher altitude because of heavy air traffic.

What caused the disaster remains unclear, but Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency released a report, saying ”Flight 8501 appears to have been trapped in bad weather that would have been difficult to avoid.”

While the plane’s black boxes – the flight data and cockpit voice recorders – have yet to be located, the discovery of the wreckage would greatly benefit the investigation.

Dead bodies of victims of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are lifted to Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh at sea off the coast of Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. Indonesian officials were hopeful Saturday they were honing in on the wreckage of the flight after sonar equipment detected two large objects on the ocean floor, a full week after the plane went down in stormy weather. (AP)

Dead bodies of victims of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are lifted to Indonesian navy vessel KRI Banda Aceh at sea off the coast of Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. Indonesian officials were hopeful Saturday they were honing in on the wreckage of the flight after sonar equipment detected two large objects on the ocean floor, a full week after the plane went down in stormy weather. (AP)

Sonar equipment identified four giant chunks on the sea bed in the target search area on Friday and Saturday, but no images have been captured confirming they are part of the AirAsia plane.

The biggest object, measuring 18 meters (59 feet) long and 5.4 meters (18 feet) wide, appeared to be part of the jet’s body, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

Other chunks of debris measured up to 12 meters (39 feet) long. Suspected plane parts also were seen scattered on beaches during an aerial survey.

Generally, aviation experts say the more passengers, luggage and parts of the aircraft that remain intact, the more likely the plane hit the water in one piece. That would signal problems like a mechanical error or a stall instead of a midair breakup due to an explosion or sudden depressurization.

Check out the conversation on Airasia flight QZ8501 on Twitter timeline:


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