Search teams trying to find the black box flight recorders from a crashed Indonesia AirAsia jet and recover bodies of victims scrambled on Tuesday (6 Jan 2015) to take advantage of a brief respite in the bad weather, as an Indonesian navy captain said they had found an object that could be the tail of the plane.
“This big part of the plane, we still have hope that victims are still inside the body of the plane,” said Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency Basarnas.
So far 39 bodies have been found. Many more bodies may still be trapped in the fuselage of the aircraft, officials told the Straits Times.
Strong currents, high winds and big waves have so far hindered attempts to send divers to investigate the objects found, more than a week after flight QZ8501 disappeared with 162 people on board.
Indonesian Air force Lt Col Jhonson Supriadi, speaking from Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town where the multinational search and recovery operation is based, told the Straits Times there was a narrow window of better weather on Tuesday.
“It’s pretty good,” he said, adding that the weather was expected to “get uglier again” later in the day.
Indonesia’s armed forces chief General Moeldoko inspected the search operations on Tuesday.
The main focus of the search is about 90 nautical miles off Borneo, where five large objects believed to be parts of the plane -- the largest about 18 metres long -- have been located in shallow waters by ships using sonar.
None of the searching ships had detected any “pings”, the locator signals the black box should transmit after a crash.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government said they would require Indonesia AirAsia to pay compensation to the next of kin of victims of flight QZ8501.
"An airline must pay compensation," Acting Air Transportation Director-General Djoko Murdjatmodjo said. "The obligation to pay compensation lies with the airline," he said in response to a question on insurance payment by AirAsia.
Payment dispute has arisen after AirAsia was reported to have been flying the Surabaya-Singapore route on Sundays when it was not granted permission from Indonesia to do so.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the airline had offered 300 million rupiah (S$32,000) for each passenger on board the ill-fated flight as initial compensation. The WSJ, citing David Thejakusuma who had seven family members on the flight, reported on Monday (Jan 5, 2015) that the budget carrier had offered the amount for each of his family members, including his sister and mother.