AirAsia crash: Indonesia says search for victims is in last days

  29 January 2015    Read: 810
AirAsia crash: Indonesia says search for victims is in last days
70 bodies retrieved but official says crews will have to be pulled out of difficult recovery effort unless more remains are found soon
Indonesia’s search for dozens of victims still unaccounted for from the crash of an AirAsia passenger jet could end within days if no more bodies are found, a senior government official has said.

The Airbus A320 vanished from radar screens in bad weather over the Java Sea on 28 December, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-biggest city, to Singapore. All 162 people on board were killed.

Indonesia’s civilian National Search and Rescue Agency said it would look for bodies for at least another week.

“Within one week we will evaluate [our search] depending on the result,” said agency chief Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo. “If we can find one or two more bodies, that means we have the opportunity to prolong the operation.“

The military withdrew from the search on Tuesday, apologising to the victims’ families for not being able to do more after a month of work.

A multinational search and recovery operation has found 70 bodies in the Java Sea and had hoped to find more after the discovery of the fuselage of the plane. But days of rough weather and poor underwater visibility hampered navy divers’ efforts.

Divers have recovered both the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the sea floor.

Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee will submit its initial findings on the crash this week to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, though only the final report will be made public.

Investigators say they have yet to start their analysis of the aircraft’s two flight recorders and have been compiling other data for the inquiry.

The Indonesian transport minister, Ignasius Jonan, has said that based on radar data the plane climbed faster than normal in its final minutes and then stalled.

Investigators have found no evidence of foul play.

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