Storm conditions including heavy rain, high waves and wind have essentially grounded search and rescue helicopters today in the search for the recently crashed AirAsia flight. While ships remain in the area, divers are also struggling to aid the recovery efforts.
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Earlier Wednesday, the head of the search and rescue agency in Surabaya told Reuters that the agency believes that the plan was found following a sonar scan of the area. However, following these remarks, Chief Executive Tony Fernandes backtracked a bit saying that so far the airline has “nothing confirmed.”
AirAsia flight search limited to Karimata Strait
The search, at present, is focusing on the Karimata Strait where naval and air assets from a number of countries including China and the United States are combing through the area. The Karimata Strait separates Sumatra and Borneo.
Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo confirmed that so far seven bodies had been recovered from the water including that of an AirAsia flight attendant. He was, however, quick to point out that the plane has not yet been located saying, “The air plane fuselage has not been found yet.”
“All parties are involved in the massive search operations to find the AirAsia plane, its passengers and crew,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The flight in question disappeared from radar screens early on Sunday morning local time. Prior to vanishing from radar the pilot asked air traffic controllers to take the crew of seven and 155 passengers from 32,000 feet to 38,000 to avoid a storm cloud. That was the last controllers heard from the plane and no distress signal was sent.
Bad weather to continue?
In addition to hindering efforts to find both the fuselage of the plane, the plane’s flight recorders, and additional bodies, the weather as well as currents is moving debris from the crash site.
“It seems all the wreckage found has drifted more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from yesterday’s location,” said Vice Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi, search and rescue coordinator in Pangkalan Bun. “We are expecting those bodies will end up on beaches.”
Unfortunately, Indonesia’s meteorology and geophysics agency is not predicting better weather and suggests that things could even get worse before abating on the weekend.