AirAsia Flight QZ8501: 17 Russian divers join search

A Russian BE-200 amphibious aircraft arrives to coordinate search operations for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 with Indonesia search and rescue teams in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan province on Jan 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
A Russian BE-200 amphibious aircraft arrives to coordinate search operations for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 with Indonesia search and rescue teams in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan province on Jan 4, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - As many as 17 Russian divers have been deployed to the waters of Karimata Strait, Kalimantan, to help the search and recovery operation for AirAsia QZ8501.

Antara news agency reported from Panglima Utar seaport in West Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, that the patrol vessel KP Balam, belonging to the Indonesia National Police's water police directorate, transported the 17 Russian divers to offshore supply ship Crest Onyx early on Sunday before they were later transferred to warship KRI Banda Aceh, which was carrying out the search and recovery operation at Ground Zero.

The National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said with support from the Russian divers, more bodies would be found and the AirAsia black box would soon be recovered.

Basarnas commander Air Chief Marshal FH Bambang Soelistyo said two Russian aircraft dispatched to help the AirAsia search operation had arrived.

He said the Russian aircraft, which were one their way to the search site, would assist the joint search and rescue (SAR) team currently carrying out searching operations in the Karimata Strait.

Soelistyo said that one of the Russian aircraft was able to land on water, making it easier to recover bodies and debris from the downed plane. "Such operations can run smoothly only if the height of the waves does not get too high," he said.

On Sunday, the SAR team recovered one more body adrift in the sea, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 34. All of the bodies were reported to have been sent to Surabaya for an identification process by the National Police's Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team at Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Surabaya. Six of the bodies have been identified and returned to their families for burial.

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