AirAsia flight QZ8501: Divers find 6 bodies, still belted in their seats, near fuselage

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia (AFP) - Indonesian divers on Thursday found six bodies still belted into their seats near the main section of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea last month with 162 people on board, and are hopeful of reaching the fuselage.

A total of 59 bodies have now been found following the crash of flight QZ8501 that went down on December 28 in stormy weather as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

“We have found six bodies, four of whom were females and two males, all adults,” S.B. Supriyadi, a rescue agency official coordinating the search, told AFP.

He said they were found among debris, with some still strapped into their seats, not far from the jet’s main section.

They had been flown to Pangkalan Bun town on Borneo island, the search headquarters.

The main body of the Airbus A320-200 was spotted on the seabed by a military vessel last week following an arduous search in shallow Indonesian waters, but strong underwater currents and rough seas have prevented divers from reaching it.

The jet's black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - were recovered last week, and investigators are analysing them.

Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said this week that the plane climbed abnormally fast before stalling and plunging into the sea.

Just moments before the plane disappeared off the radar, the pilot had asked to climb to avoid a major storm but was not immediately granted permission due to heavy air traffic.