Indonesian military calls off AirAsia wreckage recovery

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The Indonesian military on Tuesday (Jan 27) called off efforts to recover the wreckage of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea last month, after failing to find any more bodies inside the fuselage.

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

Search and rescue teams failed repeatedly in recent days to lift the main body of the Airbus A320-200, where officials had hoped to find the majority of the victims.

The navy, which has provided much of the personnel and equipment for the rescue effort, said on Tuesday it was withdrawing as the badly damaged fuselage was too difficult to lift and no more bodies had been located. 

“All of our forces are being pulled out,” Rear Admiral Widodo, a navy official overseeing the search and rescue operation, told AFP.

“We apologise to the families of the victims.”

Only 70 bodies recovered

So far just 70 bodies have been recovered, and the national search and rescue agency said it would try to find more victims in smaller-scale operations. 

“We will continue to try fulfill the hopes of the victims’ relatives, but the operation will not be a large-scale one,” the agency’s head Bambang Soelistyo told AFP.

Military spokesman Fuad Basya said that the plane’s body was “destroyed”.

“It was soaked in sea water for a while so when we lifted it, it was torn apart,” he said.

“We can no longer find any more bodies.”

Source: AFP