Bad weather forces halt to AirAsia jet search

Indonesia's meteorological agency says tropical storms probably contributed to crash of Flight QZ8501 over Java Sea.

    Bad weather has forced divers trying to identify sunken wreckage from a crashed AirAsia passenger jet to abort their mission.

    Separately, Indonesian officials said on Sunday they had not yet picked up any signals from the lost aircraft's "black box".

    Indonesia's meteorological agency on Sunday said seasonal tropical storms probably contributed to last week's crash.

    Weather has persistently hampered efforts to recover bodies and find the cockpit voice and flight data recorders that may explain why the Airbus A320-200 plunged into the sea.

    "Conditions did not allow diving operations," the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, said in Jakarta.

    "Our priority is to dive in the location we suspect parts of the plane to be."

    Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea about 40 minutes after taking off last Sunday from Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya en route for Singapore.

    There were no survivors.

    Sonar detection

    The main focus of the search is about 90 nautical miles off the coast of Borneo island, where five large objects believed to be parts of the plane, the largest about 18 metres long, have been pinpointed by ships using sonar.

    "Based on past experience, the black box is not far from the plane debris we have found," Soelistyo said.

    But he said none of the searching ships had detected any "pings", the locator signals the black box should transmit after a crash.

    Until investigators can examine the recorders, the cause of the crash remains a mystery, but the area is known for intense seasonal storms.

    BMKG, Indonesia's meteorological agency, has said bad weather may have caused ice to form on the aircraft's engines.

    "The flight document provided by the BMKG office shows fairly worrying weather conditions for the aircraft at cruising level on the chosen route," the agency said in a report.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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