AirAsia flight QZ8501: Divers find more bodies, reach plane's fuselage

Indonesian rescue personnel ride on rubber boats during the recovery operation of the victims and wreckage of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 airliner on the ocean off Pangkalan Bun, Central Borneo, Indonesia, Jan 23, 2015. Indonesian divers on Friday
Indonesian rescue personnel ride on rubber boats during the recovery operation of the victims and wreckage of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 airliner on the ocean off Pangkalan Bun, Central Borneo, Indonesia, Jan 23, 2015. Indonesian divers on Friday finally reached the fuselage of an AirAsia plane that crashed last month, an official said, as four more bodies were recovered from the Java Sea. -- PHOTO: EPA

PANGKALAN BUN (AFP) - Indonesian divers on Friday finally reached the fuselage of an AirAsia plane that crashed last month, an official said, as four more bodies were recovered from the Java Sea.

Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28 in stormy weather with 162 people on board as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

"Divers have reached the fuselage this morning but they could not get in because there were so many cables and debris," S.B.Supriyadi, an official coordinating the search at Indonesia's national rescue agency Basarnas, told AFP.

He said bad weather later in the day hampered further efforts to check if there were bodies inside.

Rescuers have been trying in vain to reach the main body of the Airbus A320-200 since it was spotted on the seabed by a military vessel last week, but have been rebuffed by difficult conditions.

Officials hope the majority of the victims will be inside the fuselage, and plan a more thorough assessment of the wreckage to determine how to retrieve the bodies.

The four bodies found Friday were located among debris near the wreckage.

A total of 63 bodies have been found so far, Supriyadi said.

Divers recovered six bodies on Thursday, some still strapped into their seats, near the main section of the plane.

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.