Jakarta/Singapore | Rescuers hunting for the crashed AirAsia plane in the Java Sea today detected pings believed to have come from its crucial black box and were gearing up to lift the jet’s tail from the seabed, as the latest breakthrough raised hopes of solving the mystery of the crash.
A ship detected the pings. The divers are trying to reach it, search and rescue agency coordinator Supriyadi said in Pangkalan Bun, the town closest to the site. The location of the ping is reported to be near where the tail was found, he said. Searchers spotted the tail section – where the black box is located – 30 kms from the plane’s last known location on Wednesday, a day after divers joined the multi-national hunt.
Officials say the black box could have been separated from the rear part of the plane. The divers are tying the tail with straps and then we will try (to lift it) two ways – floating balloons combined with cranes, so that the tail sector wouldn’t be damaged, National Search and Rescue chief Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo told reporters.
Because we assume the black box is in the tail sector, he added, as Indonesian search teams loaded balloons on to helicopters ahead of the operation to lift the tail. But some media reports said it appeared that the flight recorders were no longer in the tail. We have our fingers crossed it is the black box. Divers need to confirm. Unfortunately it seems it’s off from the tail. But the divers need to confirm the position, said Santoso Sayogo, an investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee.
Persistent bad weather with strong currents, huge waves and high winds delayed efforts to reach the fuselage on the seabed believed to contain remaining victims besides the black box. Efforts to lift the tail yesterday were hampered due to weather and officials said balloons would be used for today’s operation. Expert teams from Indonesia and France were also looking at other options, including a crane to lift the tail.
The black box contains the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, crucial to determine the cause of the crash that claimed all 162 lives on board the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501, en route from Indonesia’s Surabaya city to Singapore. The data recorders contain underwater locator beacons which emit the so-called pings for at least 30 days.
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