The search for remaining bodies from AirAsia plane crash in the Java Sea has been officially ended on March 17, head of Indonesia’s rescue agency Bambang Soelistyo has confirmed.
AirAsia lost contact with flight QZ8501 on December 28 as it was flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board.
The search effort has recovered 106 bodies, with 56 unaccounted for.
The families of those missing are disappointed but understand that the search cannot go on indefinitely.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters last week that he was satisfied with the search operation.
“We have been successful… To get more than 50% is considered a huge success,” he said.
The fuselage of the crashed plane was located in the Java Sea in mid January and the final part of it that was recoverable was removed at the end of February. Divers established that those elements of fuselage that had to be left in the sea did not contain any bodies.
The bodies that were recovered were mostly found in and around the wreckage, with a few discovered some 625 miles away, off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Three were found as recently as March 14.
The plane’s two “black box” flight recorders were also found. They revealed several alarms were “screaming”, drowning out the sound of the pilots’ voices.
Indonesia’s transport minister has said that radar data showed the plane climbing at an abnormally high rate. This could have caused it to stall, experts say.
The plane is thought to have been attempting to fly above a storm. The pilot’s last contact was a request to divert around bad weather.
The less experienced co-pilot was at the controls at the time, investigators have said.
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