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Tail of AirAsia QZ8501 lifted to surface, search for black boxes continues

The tail of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea was lifted to the surface on Saturday (Jan 10).

Floating balloons were used to lift the tail – the biggest part of the plane’s wreckage found since the crash on December 28 – from the sea floor, an AFP photographer and Indonesian authorities said.


PHOTO: AFP

Indonesian military divers chased faint signals believed to be from the black box data recorders of flight QZ8501.

The Airbus jet went missing on December 28 as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Search efforts have since focused heavily on trying to find the black boxes, which are crucial to explaining why the plane crashed as they should contain the pilots’ final words as well as various flight data.

Pings from the boxes, which were stored securely in the tail, were detected on Friday (Jan 9), raising hopes of quickly retrieving them.


PHOTO: Reuters

But the search took another frustrating twist when authorities realised the pings were likely coming away from the tail, and the boxes appeared to be buried deep into the sea floor.

“Last night, our divers had opened the door of the tail cabin, searched around but found nothing,” S.B Supriyadi, a director with the National Search and Rescue Agency, told AFP.

“But the boat above detected faint ping sounds believed to be from the black boxes about one mile (1.6 kilometres) southeast of the tail... and covered in mud.”

Supriyadi said the divers, from an elite Marines unit, returned on Saturday morning to the area believed to be where the pings were emanating from more than 30 metres (100 feet) underwater.

“They are searching within a radius of 500 metres from where the pings are emitted. The challenge is that these sounds are very faint. If a ship passes by, the sounds will be drowned out. So we really need calm waters,” he said.

“So far, our divers still have not been able to determine the coordinates of the black box.” - AFP

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