PANGKALAN BUN/JAKARTA – Indonesia search and rescue teams hunting for the wreck of an AirAsia passenger jet have located four large objects in the Java Sea, agency chief Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo told reporters on Saturday.
â€œWeâ€™ve found four big parts from the plane weâ€™re looking for,â€ Mr Soelistyo told reporters in Jakarta.
The breakthrough came as authorities said that Indonesia AirAsia had violated the terms of its licence for the Surabaya to Singapore route by flying on a Sunday, the day the Airbus A320-200 plunged into the Java Sea, and announced they would investigate the carrierâ€™s other schedules.
One large object was pinpointed by a ship searching during the night, Mr Soelistyo said, and three more, the largest of which was around 18 metres long, were located on Saturday.
High waves continued to hamper the search effort on Saturday, but the teams placed high hopes on Sunday as the tides were forecast to be between 1.5m and 2m, Mr Soelistyo added.
This come as an initial report on the website of BMKG, Indonesiaâ€™s meteorological agency, suggests the weather at the time the plane went down sparked the disaster.
â€œBased on the available data received on the location of the aircraftâ€™s last contact, the weather was the triggering factor behind the accident,â€ said a report on the agencyâ€™s website.
The report said the aircraft appeared to have flown into storm clouds.
â€œThe most probable weather phenomenon was icing which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process. This is just one of the possibilities that occurred based on the analysis of existing meteorological data,â€ it said.
Another two bodies identified
Meantime, another two bodies have been identified. They are Mr Hendra Gunawan Sawal, a 23-year-old Indonesian, and Ms Tejakusuma, 44, said Col Budiyono of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) department. Another 12 bodies – nine males and three females – were transported to Surabaya on Saturday, bringing the total to 30.
A Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team comprising six officers from the Singapore Police Force and two forensic experts from the Health Sciences Authority departed on Saturday for Surabaya to assist Indonesia in identifying the victims.
A Russian amphibious plane has also arrived in Pangakalan Bun to assist in the massive search operation, which has so far been hampered by bad weather and rough sea conditions.
Two big objects found 30 metres underwater
Two big objects were found earlier on Saturday about 30 metres under water and located near an oil slick spotted on Friday, said Mr Soelistyo, chief of Basarnas agency. The larger of the objects was around 10m by 5m.
â€œWith the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for,â€ he said.
â€œWe are lowering a ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor. All are at the depth of 30m,â€ Mr Soelistyo said.
Three vessels sent out to a sea area where the oil slick was spotted located the “two objects…that are close to each other,” said Mr Soelistyo. One of the three vessels was Singapore’s Navy ship RSS Persistence, he added. – Agencies