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Effort to float fuselage of AirAsia jet that crashed fails

Indonesian salvage teams failed to raise the fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501 from the sea bed today, but recovered four more bodies from the wreckage of the crashed jet.

The bid to raise the fuselage came a day after divers were able to enter the main section of the plane - which crashed in the Java Sea last month - for the first time.

Difficult weather conditions had stopped rescuers reaching the main part of the Airbus A320-200 since it was spotted on the seabed by a military vessel earlier this month. 

Rescue agency official S.B. Supriyadi told AFP:

“We were not successful today. The sling snapped off so the main body fell back to the sea floor.”

The operation to lift the main body will resume Sunday.

Cockpit detected?

The rescue agency official also said a sonar scan had detected an object “suspected to be the cockpit” of the plane about 500 metres away from the fuselage.

The search teams will prioritise floating the main body before verifying the object suspected to be the cockpit, Supriyadi added.

Divers began descending to the sea floor to tie floatation bags to the fuselage just after dawn today, said Rasyid Kacong, the navy official overseeing the lifting operation from onboard the Banda Aceh warship.

Four bodies believed to have come from inside the fuselage were retrieved as the team tried to lift the main section, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 69, officials said.

The jet’s black boxes – the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – were recovered last week, and investigators are analysing them.

Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28 in stormy weather, during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were 162 people on board. - AFP

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