Members of the salvage crew with the tail section of the AirAsia jet liner, doomed flight QZ8501
Members of the salvage crew with the tail section of the AirAsia jet liner, doomed flight QZ8501

AirAsia crash: Searchers may have found QZ8501 black box

INDONESIAN search teams believe they have discovered the black box recorders and fuselage, or main body, of the AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea two weeks ago, according to the transport ministry.

Divers are hoping that calmer sea conditions tomorrow will allow them to lift the recorders out of the sea.

"The black boxes are in a crushed part of the aircraft debris, making it very difficult for the team of divers," said navigation director for the transport ministry Tonny Budiono.

"Because of time constraints, (we) have decided to retrieve the black boxes tomorrow morning by gradually shifting these layers of aircraft body debris."

Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather on 28 December, less than halfway into a two-hour flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. None of the 162 people on board the aircraft survived and only 48 dead bodies have been retrieved so far.

Searchers have also been hearing pings and the battery that emits them is expected to last 17 more days.

Supriyadi, operations coordinator for the National Search and Rescue Agency, had said today that a sonar scan revealed an object measuring 10 metres by four metres by 2.5 metres on the sea floor and it was believed to be the fuselage which could contain bodies of the crash victims.

"They suspect it is the body of the plane. There is a big possibility that the black box is near the body of the plane," Supriyadi had previously told Reuters in the town of Pangkalan Bun, the base for the search effort off the coast of Borneo.

The tail of the crashed AirAsia plane being dragged out of the sea "If it is the body of the plane then we will first evacuate the victims."

Strong winds, currents and high waves have been hampering efforts to reach other large pieces of suspected wreckage detected by sonar on the sea floor.

If the recorders are raised out of the water they will be taken to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, for analysis, it could take up to two weeks to download data, investigators said, although the information could be accessed in as little as two days if the devices are not badly damaged.

While the cause of the crash is not known, the national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely to be a factor.