2 large objects found in AirAsia wreckage hunt


TATAN SYUFLANA, AP

Teams equipped with a remote-operated vehicle were battling high waves and strong currents as they tried to capture images of the find for confirmation, said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

The objects were detected early Friday by an Indonesian navy ship, and by midnight, searchers had zoomed in with a Geological Survey vessel to take dimensions.

“I’m confident this is part of the AirAsia plane,” said Soelistyo. One of the objects was measured at 9.4 meters by 4.8 meters (31 feet by 15 feet) and a half-meter (20 inches) high. The other, found nearby, was 7.2 meters (24 feet) by a half meter (20 inches).

The Airbus A320 carrying 162 passengers and crew crashed last Sunday, halfway into a two-hour flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, to Singapore. Minutes before losing contact, the pilot told air traffic control he was approaching threatening clouds, but was denied permission to climb to a higher altitude because of heavy air traffic.

Indonesian authorities announced the grounding of AirAsia flights from Surabaya to Singapore, with the Transport Ministry saying the airline did not have a permit to fly on Sundays, the day of the crash.

AirAsia, which began operations in 2001, quickly becoming one of the region’s most popular low-cost carriers, said it was reviewing the suspension.

So far, only 30 corpses have been recovered, a few still strapped in their seats. Bad weather and waves, sometimes 4 meters (13 feet) high, have slowed efforts, scattering bodies and debris farther away. An emergency exit door and slide were among the discoveries.

It remains unclear what caused the plane to plunge into the Java Sea.