Home International AirAsia Plane Body Count Rises; Choppy Weather Hinders Recovery

AirAsia Plane Body Count Rises; Choppy Weather Hinders Recovery

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AirAsia Plane Body Count Rises; Choppy Weather Hinders Recovery
AirAsia Plane Body Count Rises; Choppy Weather Hinders Recovery

Indonesia 31 Dec,2014: Rescuers continued their grim task of recovering bodies from the crash site of an AirAsia jet in shallow, choppy waters off Borneo on Wednesday, including one in a flight-attendant’s uniform and another wearing a life jacket.

Indonesian search-and-rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo said as of Wednesday morning, the bodies of four men and three women had been recovered since debris of the plane was spotted on Tuesday about 20 miles from the plane’s last recorded position on radar.

The plane, an Airbus A320 carrying 162 people, disappeared on Sunday morning without a mayday call less than an hour into its trip, while cruising at normal altitude near a group of intense storm cells en route to Singapore from the Indonesian port city of Surabaya.

Early Wednesday, Indonesia’s rescue agency said it had obtained a sonar image of what appears to be an airplane upside down on the ocean floor in 24 to 30 meters of water.

But recovery crews were racing against time as high swells and showers hampered the recovery operations around 100 nautical miles, southwest of Pangkalan Bun in the southwestern part of Borneo. The weather was expected to get worse in coming days as the area is entering the wettest period of the rainy season.

Around 90 divers, mostly Indonesian, were on standby but weren’t able to go into the water because of the rough conditions, according to Flight Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi, coordinator of the search-and-rescue mission in Pangkalan Bun.

Mr. Sandi also said the search for bodies was expanded to 150 kilometers of coastline to allow for the likelihood that some bodies might have washed ashore.

”We are expecting bodies will end up on the beach,’’ Mr. Sandi said. “The area of the search is getting wider and wider.’’

No signals have been detected coming from the black boxes or beacons, he said.

Two bodies have been brought ashore by helicopter and five remain on ships, Mr. Sandi said. A ship sent out to recover the five bodies from other vessels was forced to turn back due to the heavy seas.

Of the seven recovered so far, only one was recovered Wednesday, he said.

The search area is large because officials believe the debris is scattered over an area of 50 kilometers and being pushed toward the coast. There are more than 22 search-and-rescue vessels in the area.

The bodies will be taken to a local hospital and then sent to Surabaya for identification purposes.

The fact that one of the bodies was wearing a life jacket wasn’t necessarily an indication that passengers had had some warning the plane was in trouble.

“One individual with a life jacket doesn’t tell much. It could be a person who thought that the plane was going down and put the life jacket on. I really don’t know what to make of it,” said Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor for industry publication Flightglobal.

“If the pilots had ordered passengers to wear their life jackets, I’d imagine they would have the presence of mind to make a distress call.”

Investigators and AirAsia officials stressed it was still too early to draw definitive conclusions about what caused the plane to crash. But based on preliminary information, some safety experts said the location and relatively concentrated pattern of the wreckage suggests the plane didn’t break apart high in the atmosphere.

Source Wall street Journal

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