World / Asia-Pacific

AirAsia search teams hope for respite from bad weather

(Agencies) Updated: 2015-01-06 11:54

AirAsia search teams hope for respite from bad weather

Workers assemble a beacon buoy that will placed on the site where, according to officials, the tail of crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been located, near Kumai port in Pangkalan Bun, January 5, 2015. An Indonesian naval patrol vessel has found what could be the tail of a crashed AirAsia passenger jet, the section where the crucial black box voice and flight data recorders are located, officials said on Monday. [Photo/Agencies]

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia - Search teams trying to find the black box flight recorders from a crashed AirAsia jet and recover bodies of victims scrambled on Tuesday to take advantage of a brief respite in the bad weather that has frustrated the operation for the last nine days.

Indonesian officials believe they may have located the tail and parts of the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200 at the bottom of the Java Sea, but strong currents, high winds and big waves have hindered attempts to send divers to investigate.

Flight QZ8501 plunged into the water off Borneo island on Dec 28, about 40 minutes into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board.

Jakarta has launched a crackdown on its fast-growing aviation sector in the wake of the crash, reassigning some officials and tightening rules on pre-flight procedures in a country with a patchy reputation for air safety.

Air force Lt Col Jhonson Supriadi, speaking from Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town where the multinational search and recovery operation is based, said there was a narrow window of better weather early on Tuesday.

"It's pretty good. We will start searching as quickly as possible," he said, adding that the weather was expected to "get uglier again" later in the day.

The main focus of the search is about 90 nautical miles off Borneo, where five large objects believed to be parts of the plane - the largest about 18 meters (59 feet) long - have been located in shallow waters by ships

The captain of an Indonesian navy patrol vessel said on Monday his ship had found what was believed to be the tail - a key find since that section of the aircraft houses the cockpit voice and flight data recorders - but search and rescue agency officials said that was not yet confirmed.

Officials had previously suggested the larger objects were also likely to include part of the aircraft's fuselage, where many bodies may still be trapped.

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