The underwater search for AirAsia flight QZ8501 which crashed into the sea on December 28 is set to begin with the arrival of specialist equipment.
A French crash investigation team will use sensitive acoustic detection devices to try locate the plane’s “black box” flight recorder.
The Airbus A320-200 was flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board when it vanished.
No survivors have been found and the cause of the crash remains unknown.
Several more bodies were located on January 2, bringing the total found to 16.
One person has been identified as passenger Hayati Lutfiah Hamid – her funeral was held in Surabaya on January 1.
The plane is almost certainly at the bottom of the relatively shallow Java Sea.
Several pieces of debris have been recovered, including what is thought to be part of a wing flap.
Despite a massive five-day search the fuselage is still missing. Officials say most of the passengers could still be inside.
Locating the fuselage and the flight recorder will help answer the mystery of what happened to make the plane fall from the sky.
The head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo, said on January 2 that wreckage and bodies are spread over a 3-mile area of the Java Sea.
The search was now focusing on an area of 1,575 nautical square miles of the Java Sea off Borneo, he told reporters.
“Divers are already on standby at the navy ship Banda Aceh to dive on that priority area to locate the body of the plane,” he said.
“I hope we’ll get a significant result today.”
There were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew, on the plane. The majority of those on board were Indonesians.
Some investigators are reported to believe that the plane may have gone into an aerodynamic stall as the pilot climbed steeply to avoid a storm.
A source quoted by Reuters said that radar data appeared to show that the aircraft’s “unbelievably” steep climb may have been beyond the Airbus A320’s limits.
[youtube 9SSHzFXtCyE 650]
A towed pinger locator is now being used to hunt for the black box of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Two ships with locator capabilities are searching a 150 mile underwater path, in the hope of recovering the plane’s data recorder.
Up to 14 planes and nine ships were due to take part in Friday’s search.
Malaysia Airlines plane disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It was carrying 239 people.
It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, although no confirmed debris has been found from the plane.
The search is being co-ordinated from the city of Perth in Western Australia.
The battery-powered pingers on the plane’s black box stop transmitting about 30 days after a crash, giving the searchers now perhaps only a few days to locate it.
Angus Houston, head of the Joint Agencies Coordination Centre (JACC) leading the search, said that two ships had “commenced the sub-surface search for emissions from [the] black box pinger”.
Search teams have begun using a towed pinger locator to hunt for the black box of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Australia naval vessel Ocean Shield was using a towed pinger locator from the US Navy, while HMS Echo, which had similar capabilities, was also searching.
“The two ships will search a single 240km track converging on each other,” Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, who is retired, said.
ACM Angus Houston said that the area had been picked on the basis of analysis of the satellite data.
It was based on work regarding “how the aircraft might have performed and how it might have been flown”, to choose the “area of highest probability as to where it might have entered the water”.
He pointed out that this data was continuing to be refined, but the current search was based on the “best data that is available”.
Given the progress in data evaluation and calculation, “there is some hope we will find the aircraft in the area we are searching”, Angus Houston added.
The two ships will be moving at reduced speeds, of around three knots, in their attempt to detect any signal from the pinger.
Commodore Peter Leavy, Commander of Joint Task Force 658, said that search operations generally preferred to use “physical evidence” and “drift modeling” to locate a plane.
However, “no hard evidence has been found to date so we have made the decision to search a sub-surface area on which the analysis has predicted MH370 is likely to have flown,” he said.
In a statement, JACC said up to 10 military planes, four civilian planes and nine ships would be deployed in Friday’s search efforts.
The focus is on a search area of about 84,000 sq miles, 1,000 miles north west of Perth.
Fair weather was forecast for Friday, with visibility of around 6 miles, JACC said.
Malaysia Airlines ex-steward Patrick Chow says the cabin crew he knew could not be responsible for the plane’s disappearance
Meeting staff involved in the search on Friday, Australian PM Tony Abbott said: “It is probably the most difficult search that’s ever been mounted.”
“A large aircraft seems like something that would be easy enough to locate – but a large aircraft that all but disappeared and disappeared into inaccessible oceans is an extraordinary, extraordinary challenge that you’re faced with.”
ACM Angus Houston said there was still a “great possibility of finding something on the surface [of the ocean]”.
“There’s lots of things in aircraft that float,” he said, citing previous searches where life jackets from planes were found.
[youtube 83ovS-QCuyQ 650]
Italian rescue teams have abandoned their search for bodies inside the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia after conditions underwater deteriorated.
“We have definitively stopped the underwater search inside the ship,” a spokesman for the fire brigade on Giglio island said.
Fifteen people are still missing after the ship ran aground off Italy on 13 January with the loss of 17 lives.
Work to recover the capsized vessel may take up to 10 months.
Italy’s civil protection agency, which has been overseeing rescue efforts, said it had contacted the families of the missing, and the foreign embassies involved, to explain its decision.
Emergency crews would continue to inspect the part of the ship that is above the water line and use specialist equipment to check whether there could be any corpses on the sea bed, it said.
Italian rescue teams have abandoned their search for bodies inside the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia after conditions underwater deteriorated
Divers have described tricky conditions inside the ship, with corridors cluttered with furniture and turbid waters.
Dives has been limited to a maximum of 50 minutes, making it difficult to penetrate far into the vessel.
Work to pump out more than 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship has been hampered by bad weather.
The operation to move the ship itself cannot safely begin until the fuel is removed.
The 114,500-ton Costa Concordia cruise ship ran aground on rocks with more than 4,200 people on board.
Costa Concordia was holed by a rock after being steered by its captain to within 150 metres (yards) of the tiny island of Giglio.
Captain Francesco Schettino is under house arrest in his home town of Meta di Sorrento, near Naples, while his actions are investigated.
Francesco Schettino is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship before all passengers were evacuated. He denies the allegations.
Costa Crociere, which is part of the world’s largest cruise ship operator Carnival Group, has offered uninjured passengers 11,000 euros ($14,500) each in compensation, on condition that they drop any legal action.
However, a consumer group and two US law firms are filing a class-action lawsuit in the US, demanding at least $160,000 for each passenger on the ship.