3 bodies found, sea currents hinder search for AirAsia plane wreckage

Bangkok: International search teams Monday found three more bodies even as strong sea currents Monday hampered the search for the black boxes and bodies of more victims of the AirAsia plane that crashed Dec 28, 2014 with 162 people on board.

Despite improved surface weather conditions, the currents prevented divers and unmanned submarines equipped with cameras from descending into the waters, EFE reported.

Their objective was to confirm if the large objects spotted by radar in the Java Sea at a depth of 30 metres and measuring between seven-10 metres in size belong to the Airbus 320-200 aircraft that took off on ill-fated flight QZ8510.

Rescue teams have so far recovered 37 bodies. A helicopter of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue agency picked up the bodies found earlier in the day by a Malaysian navy ship, Xinhua reported.

According to authorities, one of those bodies was of a woman, the remaining two are yet to be identified.

The bodies were rushed to the Imanuddin hospital in the central Kalimantan province of Indonesia's Borneo island before being transported to Surabaya, where the ill-fated aircraft had taken off for Singapore.

Suryadi Supriyadi, Indonesia's director of national search and rescue operations, said Sunday that, in his opinion, the black boxes will be found near the submerged parts of the plane in which some passengers may have been trapped in their seats.

Meanwhile, mud on the seabed was also preventing the teams from locating signals from the black boxes that can be detected at distances of 2,000-3,000 metres under optimal conditions.

The batteries of the black boxes are expected to run out by Jan 27.

Four large objects believed to be of the plane were found Saturday, the biggest one being 18 metres long.

Another large object - 9.8 metres long, 1.1 metres wide and 0.4 metre high - was found by Indonesian teams Sunday.

A total of 27 ships and 20 aircraft from different countries are participating in the search and rescue operations, said the Indonesian agency.

In its report Saturday, Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said that the accident was most likely due to engine damage caused by ice forming on the aircraft as it passed through a cloud.

Indonesian authorities have criticised AirAsia Indonesia for not having obtained permission to fly the Surabaya-Singapore route Sunday when the accident occurred and also because the pilot was allegedly not informed about the weather conditions in person by the BMKG.

Some pilots allege that the BMKG lacks the capacity to attend to all the pilots in person and instead posts critical information on its website.

"The fact is that the management of the Indonesian aviation system has for years been a dangerous life-threatening mess and urgently needs a total overhaul from corrupt officials to obsolete technology and equipment," said an editorial in the Indonesian daily Jakarta Globe.

"It's crazy to think that the pilot used outdated weather information 10 hours or even a day late, even as the weather changes constantly, especially with climate change becoming very real," it added.

AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off from Surabaya on Java island Dec 28 and was scheduled to reach Singapore some two hours later.

The plane's passengers included 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, a Briton, a Frenchman, a Malaysian and a Singaporean, along with a crew of seven.

The pilot called Indonesian air traffic control and sought permission to swerve left and make a climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid a storm.

Air traffic controllers gave permission to turn left but were unable to establish contact with the plane when they called a few minutes later to approve a climb to 34,000 feet.

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