After three days of intense searching, Indonesian officials say they think they’ve found debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in the waters off the island of Borneo.
Objects spotted in the sea are “95% likely” to be from the plane that went missing Sunday with 162 people on board, said Bambang Sulistyo, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, said Tuesday.
A search team on a plane spotted the shadow of an object that looked like a plane in the water. Further searching discovered floating objects believed to be the bodies of passengers, and then what appeared to be an emergency exit of the plane, Sulistyo told a news conference.
The announcement came as a heart-breaking blow to relatives of passengers who had been waiting for news at the airport in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where Flight 8501 began its journey.
The plane was carrying 155 passengers and 7 crew members. The overwhelming majority of those on board were Indonesians. There were also citizens of Britain, France, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
There were scenes of anguish as families watched the news conference live and saw the video of a helicopter lowering a diver down to what appeared to be a floating body.
Latest Update: Monday, 29 December 2014 (11:26 pm GMT +7)
The missing AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 is likely to be at the bottom of the sea, the head of Indonesia’s search-and-rescue agency has said.
Bambang Soelistyo said the hypothesis was based on the coordinates of the plane when contact with it was lost.
The search for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared with 162 people on board on Sunday on a flight to Singapore, has ended for a second day.
The search area will be widened on Tuesday.
Latest Update: Monday, 29 December 2014 (10:06 pm)
The Australian aircraft who spotted the objects suspected to be the wreckage of missing Indonesian AirAsia have reported that the objects were actually the oil spots. They informed this after the weather became clearer and found out that the patch of oil is present over the sea that prompted officials to believe that the aircraft is probably at the bottom of the sea. Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia have been extensively assisting the Indonesian Search team to find the missing AirAsia Flight QZ-8501.
Indonesian Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto informed AFP the search was now focused on an oil patch spotted off Belitung Island in the Java Sea, across from Kalimantan on Borneo Island, which, initially, was thought as objects lying over the sea surface.
Indonesian officials have informed that Australian Planes have spotted objects that seem like remains of wreckage in the sea during the search operation of missing flight QZ8501. The officials say that the wreckage has been found at a distance of 1,120 from the spot where the plane lost contact with Air Traffic Control.
According to the Associated Press, the Australian planes found the objects floating over the sea while conducting the search in that area, avoiding telling further information. However, the Australian Defence Force has not confirmed this news yet.
Australia sent an aircraft equipped with long-range Orion search and communications to participate in the international search effort. It reached the search zone earlier in the day.
This is a big development after Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief acknowledged the fact that the plane had met the tragic catastrophe.
“Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Soelistyo told the journalists at the press conference.
“That’s the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search.”
The rough weather has been hampering the search process. It is suspected that the same rough weather with heavy rains and thunderstorms might have been the reason for the plane’s crash.
The pilot contacted Jakarta Air Traffic Control at 6.12 am – lost contact at 6.17 am. The AirAsia airplane was flying from Surabaya in East Java to Singapore carrying 162 passengers on board. The plane is six years old and it was serviced a month ago. Facing the storm on the route, the pilot requested to change the flight route and also increase the altitude from 32,000 to 38,000 feet. This request was the last communication plane did with the Indonesian Aircraft Control. The last communication happened when the plane was between the island of Pulau Belitung and the city of Pontianak on Borneo.
Aviation experts said that aircraft should have avoided the route where it faced the most severe storm which had the capability to torn the aircraft apart. While other experts view that the aircraft climbed too slowly probably due to the powerful under draft that resisted the plane or it may be due to the pilot error.
According to the reports, once the weather becomes better, the planes involved in the search will be better able to trace the wreckage which is just spotted for the time being. But, they also show concerns any delays in search due to worse weather conditions may disperse the wreckage in sea and any chances of recovering the survivors will extinct.