AirAsia search widened as divers return to examine ′objects′ | News | DW | 05.01.2015
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AirAsia search widened as divers return to examine 'objects'

The search area for debris and bodies from AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been widened, as divers attempt to get a closer look at objects located on the sea bed. Investigators have yet to detect any signals from the wreckage.

Divers from the Indonesian navy took advantage of calmer waters to resume their search on Monday, after conditions hampered their efforts a day earlier.

The search area was widened to allow for currents, eight days after the AirAsia Airbus 320 went missing en route from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board. Recovery teams fear that debris may have drifted in the rough weather that has hampered their operations for so long.

A search by divers on Sunday was called off due to poor weather, with visibility below the surface said to have been "very bad" as the rolling sea stirred up silt and mud.

Objects may be lifted

Helicopters are set to scour coastal areas, but the focus of the search remains an area some 90 nautical miles off the southern coast of Borneo island. Five large pieces of wreckage - the largest about 18 metres (59 feet) in length - were located in the vicinity by ships using sonar.

Indonesia's Search and Rescue director of operations, Suryadi B. Supriyadi, said specialist equipment might be used to bring the objects to the surface, should divers be unable to make progress.

"If it cannot be done by divers, we will use sophisticated equipment with capabilities of tracking underwater objects and then will lift them up," Supriyadi told the AFP news agency.

'Pings' still prove elusive

Both the cockpit voice and flight data recorders - which would yield vital clues about what happened - would be located near the tail of the Airbus, although it was not clear if that part of the aircraft was nearby.

Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said none of the searching ships had detected any of the "pings" that locator signals on the boxes should transmit after a crash.

However, Soelistyo said the team was optimistic. "Based on past experience, the black box is not far from the plane debris we have found," Soelistyo said.

Only 34 bodies, some still strapped in their seats, have so far been recovered in the search.

rc/bk (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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