JAKARTA - Nine bodies were recovered by Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) as of Thursday, as high tide and choppy waters posed difficulty for personnel searching for the remains of the victims of the ill-fated AirAsia Indonesia's flight QZ8501.
The plane had gone missing on Dec 28, 2014, and debris were found three days later in the waters south of Kalimantan region.
All 162 people on board are presumed dead, and buried undersea in the aircraft whose shadow was reportedly spotted by rescue personnel earlier but fuselage is yet to be found.
"We will not leave our brothers and sisters down there, whatever the conditions," Basarnas chief Bambang Soelistyo said at a news conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
He said strong currents and tides of up to 3m hampered recovery operations.
More than 90 vessels and aircraft and helicopters were involved in the search covering 13,000 sq km, according to an AirAsia statement.
Vessels from Singapore, Malaysia and the United States assisted in the efforts, Mr Soelistyo said, adding that Singapore's equipment to detect underwater material has also arrived.
Singapore's Autonomous Underwater Vehicle was flown in while MV Swift Rescue joined three other vessels from the country to conduct search operations in the area, a statement by the Ministry of Defence said on Thursday. Another countermeasure vessel, the RSS Kallang, will reach the sea area tomorrow, the statement added.
Of the nine bodies recovered so far, six have been transported to Surabaya, two are on their way from Pangkalanbun in Kalimantan, while one is in the process of landing ashore from onboard a rescue vessel, he said.
He said among the debris recovered were two black bags, one grey suitcase and a few pieces of metal, but priority remains locating the biggest chunk of fuselage.