QZ8501: Two Big Objects Spotted; Plane On Unauthorised Flight Schedule

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PANGKALAN BUN, Jan 3 – Two big objects were found in the search for Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 on Saturday, but rough sea hampered the operation of an underwater search vehicle. It was also revealed by indonesia’s transport ministry that the plane was flying on an unauthorised schedule last Sunday when it disappeared.

The two objects spotted are about 30 metres under water and located near an oil slick spotted yesterday, said Mr Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas. The larger of the objects was around 10m by 5m. “With the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for,” he said.

“We are lowering a ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor. All are at the depth of 30m,” Mr Soelistyo said, adding that a strong current was making it difficult to operate the ROV. Three vessels sent out to a sea area where the oil slick was spotted located the “two objects…that are close to each other,” said Mr Soelistyo. One of the three vessels was Singapore’s Navy ship RSS Persistence, he added.

The sea in the search area was still rough on Saturday, with waves reaching a height of 4m. Malaysia’s Chief of Navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar said in a tweet that visibility was about 8 nautical miles with wind speed of 20-30 knots. He said a search area with a dimension of 57 by 10 nautical miles had been established.

Small pieces of the aircraft and other debris have been found so far, but there has been no sign of the crucial voice and flight data recorders – the so-called black boxes that investigators hope will unravel the sequence of events in the cockpit during the doomed jet’s final minutes.

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