JAKARTA. – A team of Indonesian navy divers has located both black boxes from an AirAsia airliner that crashed two weeks ago, which is believed to have exploded as it hit the sea.
Indonesian officials announced yesterday that the first black box, the flight data recorder, had been retrieved from the Java Sea for analysis. Hours later they said the cockpit voice recorder had been located but not yet brought to the surface.
Flight QZ8501 crashed on December 28 on its way from Indonesia’s second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 people on board.
The plane lost contact with air traffic control in bad weather less than halfway into its scheduled two-hour flight.
“At 7:11, we succeeded in lifting the part of the black box known as the flight data recorder,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters at a news conference. The data recorder was found under the wrecked wing of the plane.
Later his colleague Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, the agency’s operation co-ordinator, said the cockpit recorder had been located, but was stuck under heavy wreckage, which divers were working to lift.
Officials hope the black boxes will reveal the cause of the crash. The national weather bureau has said seasonal storms were likely a factor.
S. B. Supriyadi, a director with the national search and rescue agency, said that initial analysis of the wreckage so far recovered indicated that the plane exploded on impact with the water.
“It exploded because of the pressure,” he told reporters in Pangkalan Bun town on Borneo island, the search headquarters.
“The cabin was pressurised and before the pressure of the cabin could be adjusted, it went down – boom. That explosion was heard in the area.”
Investigators said the flight data recorder would most likely be taken to the capital, Jakarta, for analysis and that it could take up to two weeks to download the data.
However, the information could be accessed in as little as two days if the devices are not badly damaged.
Forty-eight bodies have been retrieved from the Java Sea and searchers believe more will be found in the plane’s fuselage.
Relatives of the victims have urged authorities to make finding the remains of their loved ones the priority.
“All the ships, including the ships from our friends, will be deployed with the main task of searching for bodies that are still or suspected to still be trapped underwater,” Soelistyo said, referring to the multinational force helping with the search and recovery effort. – The Guardian.