QZ8501: Divers Take Advantage Of Calmer Waters To Identify Suspected Wreckage; Search Area Widens

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JAKARTA, Jan 5 – Indonesian navy divers took advantage of calmer waters on Monday to resume efforts to identify suspected wreckage from missing Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501, as ships and aircraft widened their search for debris and bodies from the plane.

Three more bodies were recovered on Monday, bringing the total number found so far to 37. Four more were identified. “Day 9: Search sector expanded eastward, in view of …easterly direction of the current at (the) rate of 1 knot,” Malaysia’s Chief of Navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar said in a tweet.

Indonesian Air Force Lt Col Jhonson Supriadi said “the weather is quite conducive. The visibility is six kilometres, there’s no low cloud, the wind is calm.” “With our calculations of currents this strong, every day this operational area is extended,” he added. 

The main focus of the search is about 90 nautical miles off the coast of Borneo island, where five large objects believed to be parts of the plane – the largest about 18 metres long – have been pinpointed by ships using sonar. The suspected wreckage is lying in water around 30 metres deep, which experts say should make it relatively straightforward to recover.

“Based on past experience, the black box is not far from the plane debris we have found,” Mr Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Basarnas, told a media briefing at the agency’s headquarters in Jakarta late on Sunday. But he added that none of the searching ships had detected any “pings”, the locator signals the black box should transmit after a crash.

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