AirAsia flight QZ8501: Pings detected; black box does not appear to be in tail of plane

Indonesian navy divers prepare to dive in an area (orange ball) where they found the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 in the Java sea Jan 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Indonesian navy divers prepare to dive in an area (orange ball) where they found the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 in the Java sea Jan 8, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PANGKALAN BUN (REUTERS) - Search and rescue teams hunting for the wreckage of the missing Indonesia AirAsia passenger jet have detected pings in their efforts to find the black box but it appeared that the black box was no longer in the tail of the plane, officials said.

“(Indonesian vessel) KN Jadayat received pings estimated to be 300m away" from the location where the tail and other parts of the plane were first found, armed forces chief General Moeldoko said on Friday. He had mobilised seven divers to confirm the signals, detik news website reported.

Santoso Sayogo, an investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee, told Reuters: “We have our fingers crossed it is the black box....unfortunately it seems it’s off from the tail. But the divers need to confirm the position.”

The tail was found on Wednesday, upturned on the sea bed about 30 km from the plane’s last known location at a depth of around 30m. The Airbus A320-200 carries the black box cockpit voice and flight data recorders near the tail section.

The detection came soon after Indonesian search teams loaded lifting balloons on to helicopters on Friday morning, ahead of an operation to raise the tail section of the jet off the sea bed, raising hopes the black box can be found to reveal the cause of the disaster.

Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens on Dec 28 less than half way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board.

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