Indonesia’s search teams have located two large objects underwater that they believe belong to the missing AirAsia jet.
“With the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for,” search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo told reporters on Saturday.
The objects are resting on the Java Sea floor, about 90 feet underwater, Soelistyo said. They measure 15 by 30 feet and 1.6 by 24 feet.
The agency has sent in remotely operated underwater vehicles to photograph the images before sending in divers. Channel News Asia reported that strong currents were making it difficult for the underwater vehicle to get a picture of the objects.
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went down in the Karimata Strait last Sunday with 162 passengers on board. High winds and strong currents have hampered search efforts. Waves have been as high as 12 feet and wind speed is 20 to 30 knots, tweeted Malaysia’s Chief of Navy, Abdul Aziz Jaafar. Wind and rain are forecast for the next 24 hours.
The search area was widened on Saturday as debris may have drifted more than 200 nautical miles, toward the coastline of southern Borneo.
So far 30 bodies have been recovered. Most of the passengers are believed to be still strapped in their seats. No survivors have been found.
The Airbus A320 crashed into the Java Sea halfway into its flight from Surabaya to Singapore. The pilot had asked air traffic control for permission to climb to 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather. The request was denied because there was other traffic in the area. The plane was not heard from again.
This was the first deadly incident for the 13-year-old carrier. AirAsia is one of many budget airlines in the region. Low-cost fares have made it possible for tens of millions of people to travel in the region.