Search teams have announced that “pings” have been detected in the Java Sea which could have come from the “black box” flight recorders of AirAsia flight QZ8501.
The pings were heard near where the plane’s tail was found. Officials say the black box could have been separated from the rear part of the plane.
Flight QZ8501 disappeared from radar on December 28 with 162 people on board.
No survivors have been found from the Airbus A320-200, which was flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore.
“We received an update from the field that the pinger locator already detected pings,” said Santoso Sayogo, an investigator at the National Transportation Safety Committee.
The “black box” flight data recorders are usually housed inside the rear part of the plane. They are designed to survive a crash and being submerged in water, and contain underwater locator beacons which emit the so-called “pings” for at least 30 days.
Finding them has been one of the top priorities for search teams as they provide crucial clues from the last moments of the flight before it came down.
The cause of the crash is unknown but the plane encountered bad weather and asked for a flight path change before communication was lost.
The rear part of the plane was spotted on January 7 by an unmanned underwater vehicle at a depth of about 30 meters.
Authorities said it was upside down and partially buried about 20 miles from the point of last contact with the plane, off the coast of Borneo.
The commander of the Indonesian armed forces, Gen. Moeldoko said on January 9 the tail appeared to be in broken condition.
Authorities have been pulling bodies and wreckage from the sea but progress has been slow due to high waves and stormy weather.
Forty-six bodies have been retrieved so far. Search teams believe most of the remains may still be inside the fuselage of the plane which has yet to be found.
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