Divers fail to find AirAsia black boxes despite ping signal

2015-01-09 14:17

Indonesian divers sent to locate the flight recorders of the AirAsia plane that crashed on December 28 returned empty-handed today, the armed forces chief said.

Earlier a search vessel equipped with a ping beacon detected a signal 300 metres from where the tail of the aircraft was found this week, General Moeldoko said.

The flight recorders are usually located in an aircraft’s tail section, and help investigators determine the chain of events that lead to an accident.

“We sent seven divers and they found some debris, but the black boxes were not there,” Moeldoko told TVOne broadcaster.

He said another group of divers who spent more than an hour examining the tail 30 metres underwater discovered that some parts of the tail section were missing.

“Our fear is that the black box was already separated from the tail,” said Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.

He said sudden weather changes forced search crews to halt an attempt to retrieve the tail using lifting bags, which would be strapped to the tail and inflated.

The work would resume later Friday if the weather allowed, he said.

AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea with 162 people on board. No survivors have been found.

The head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, Bambang Sulistyo, said the confirmed death toll from the crash rose to 48, after two more bodies still strapped to their seats were found today.

The search for the plane’s fuselage, thought to contain many of the victims’ bodies, is ongoing.

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