AirAsia jet tail found underwater, black box may be close by
Updated: 2015-01-07 21:29
What is believed to be wreckage from crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java Sea is pictured in this underwater photograph released by Indonesia's National Search And Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) January 7, 2015. The tail of a crashed AirAsia jet has been found on the sea bed about 30 km (20 miles) from the plane's last known location, Indonesia's search and rescue agency said on Wednesday, a breakthrough that investigators hope will lead to the crucial black box recorders. [Photo/Agencies]
The tail of a crashed AirAsia jet has been found upturned on the sea bed about 30 km (20 miles) from the plane's last known location, Indonesia's search and rescue agency said on Wednesday, indicating the crucial black box recorders may be nearby.
Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens over the northern Java Sea on Dec. 28, less than half-way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second-biggest city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were no survivors among the 162 people on board.
"We've found the tail that has been our main target," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta.
The tail was identified by divers after it was spotted by an underwater machine using a sonar scan, Soelistyo said. He displayed underwater photographs showing partial lettering on the sunken object compared with a picture of an intact Airbus A320-200 in AirAsia livery.
"I can confirm that what we found was the tail part from the pictures," he said, adding that the team "now is still desperately trying to locate the black box".
Indonesia's Minister for Maritime Affairs, Indroyono Soesilo, told another news conference: "With the finding of the tail, six SAR (search and rescue) ships are already at the location to search within a radius of two nautical miles."
Forty bodies and debris from the plane have been plucked from the surface of the waters off Borneo, but strong winds and high waves have been hampering divers' efforts to reach larger pieces of suspected wreckage detected by sonar on the sea floor.
German insurer Allianz said it had begun making initial payments to the families of crash victims, although it declined to specify the amount.
"These payments are in no way final settlements," said a spokesman for Allianz, which is the lead reinsurer for the consortium of insurers covering claims in the case. "We will agree further compensation in due course in consultation with all involved parties."
Initial insurance payments to cover immediate financial hardship in similar cases have run at around $25,000 for the next of kin of each passenger, according to industry sources.