AirAsia Flight QZ8501: Nine bodies recovered, tools for underwater detection in: Basarnas

Police carry debris from a boat believed to be an emergency slide from the wreck of the AirAsia QZ8501 jet, at the Kumai Port, Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, on Jan 1, 2015, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Police carry debris from a boat believed to be an emergency slide from the wreck of the AirAsia QZ8501 jet, at the Kumai Port, Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, on Jan 1, 2015, in this photo taken by Antara Foto. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
An Indonesian Search and Rescue helicopter takes off after delivering the remains of a passenger onboard the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan on Jan 1, 2015. -- HOTO: REUTERS
An Indonesian Search and Rescue helicopter takes off after delivering the remains of a passenger onboard the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan on Jan 1, 2015. -- HOTO: REUTERS
A view from an Indonesian Navy maritime surveillance plane on a mission to search for wreckage and the remains of passengers onboard the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, over the Karimata Strait south of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan on Jan 1, 2015. -- PHO
A view from an Indonesian Navy maritime surveillance plane on a mission to search for wreckage and the remains of passengers onboard the AirAsia QZ8501 flight, over the Karimata Strait south of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan on Jan 1, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Crewmembers of an Indonesian Air Force Super Puma helicopter of the 6th Air Squadron look out the windows during search operations for victims of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 over the Java Sea on Jan 1, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Crewmembers of an Indonesian Air Force Super Puma helicopter of the 6th Air Squadron look out the windows during search operations for victims of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 over the Java Sea on Jan 1, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

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.

wahyudis@sph.com.sg

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