Divers Deployed to Find AirAsia Debris Hindered by Weather

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

AirAsia Flight 8501 search hindered by bad weather, bodies expected wash ashore.

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia — Bad weather hindered efforts to recover victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 on Wednesday and sent wreckage drifting far from the crash site, as grieving relatives prayed for strength to endure their losses. “Help us, God, to move forward, even though we are surrounded by darkness,” the Rev. Searchers recovered seven bodies so far, including that of a female flight attendant, from the wreckage site of Flight 8501, while 17 helicopters assisted recovery efforts, F.H. The Wednesday warning came as 67 divers, assisted by 17 helicopters, went into a second day in their search for bodies, wreckage and answers in the devastating plane wreck. The massive hunt for 162 people who vanished Sunday aboard the Airbus A320 traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore, was severely limited due to heavy rain, wind and thick clouds. Seven bodies, including a flight attendant in her red AirAsia uniform, have been recovered, said Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo.

All 162 people aboard Flight 8501 were presumed dead after the plane fell from the sky Sunday morning during what started as a routine two-hour trip to Singapore. Sixty seven divers were readied by Indonesia to scour the area for the fuselage of the Airbus Group NV (AIR) A320, plus the black boxes that may answer what doomed the 162 people on board. The cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders are essential to piecing together what happened in the six minutes between the time the pilot asked the control tower for permission to deviate from the flight path and when the jet dropped off radar contact. Relatives of the dead passengers gathered again at the airport in Surabaya to await updates one day after their hopes of a miracle were crushed by the discovery of bodies and debris. The aircraft’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders, or black boxes, must be recovered before officials can start determining what caused the crash.

Malaysia-based AirAsia’s loss comes on top of the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March with 239 people aboard, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine, which killed all 298 passengers and crew. Simple wooden coffins — numbered 001 and 002 — with purple flowers on top contained the first two bodies, which were sent from Pangkalan Bun to Surabaya for autopsies.

The Flight 8501 pilots requested to climb to 38,000 feet and were given a response two minutes later to fly at 34,000 feet, Wisnu Darjono, director at AirNav Indonesia, the nation’s air navigation operator, told Bloomberg News today, citing a transcript of the conversation between traffic controllers and the plane. It’s the third high-profile incident involving a carrier in Asia this year, raising safety concerns in one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. It took almost two years for investigators to recover the data recorders from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after an Air France plane went down en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in 2009. I surrender all.” Many family members had planned to travel to Pangkalan Bun, 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the area where bodies were first spotted, to start identifying their loved ones. However, Surabaya airport general manager Trikora Hardjo later said the trip was canceled after authorities suggested their presence could slow down the operation.

It was 13-year-old Adrian Fernando’s first trip to the city-state and was supposed to be a fun vacation with his aunt, uncle and cousin before school resumed. “He is my only son,” said his emotional mother Linca Gonimasela, 39, who could not accompany him because she had to work. “At first, he didn’t want to go, but later on he was persuaded to join them for the New Year holiday.” A number of Indonesian cities have opted to cancel or tone down their planned New Year’s Eve celebrations. To contact the reporters on this story: Rieka Rahadiana in Jakarta at rrahadiana@bloomberg.net; Fathiya Dahrul in Surabaya at fdahrul@bloomberg.net; Yudith Ho in Surabaya at yho35@bloomberg.net

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