JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesian rescuers on Sunday resumed their search for 86 victims still missing from the AirAsia plane that crashed on December 28 with 162 people on board, an official said.
National search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo last week said search and rescue teams were being given two days’ break after weeks searching in inhospitable conditions.
Sixty-eight divers from the national search and rescue agency as well as others from companies and clubs would focus on scouring the fuselage of Flight QZ8501 and the seabed for remaining bodies, he said.
So far, 76 bodies have been recovered after the plane went down in the Java Sea in stormy weather during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
“Search operations have resumed. Our focus today is to find bodies that could be trapped in the fuselage, or buried in mud,” SB Supriyadi, a search and rescue agency official who has been coordinating the hunt, told AFP.
“The weather is good, and the waves were only a metre high,” he said, adding that six boats were in the search area.
The search mission has been expanded to the island of Sulawesi after fishermen found bodies with identity documents matching the passengers on the ill-fated flight.
The Indonesian military, which has provided the bulk of personnel and equipment for the operation, withdrew from the search Tuesday. But Supriyadi said the current group also comprised of competent divers.
“Skills-wise, they are as good as those from the military as they have experience helping to evacuate sunken boats before,” he added.
“We hope we can still find the remaining bodies,” he said.