Update as of 2:20 a.m. EST: The search for AirAsia Flight 8501’s black box could take a week, an Indonesian air safety official told Reuters, adding that no signals from the black box had yet been detected.
“The main thing is to find the main area of the wreckage and then the black box,” Toos Sanitiyoso, an official of the Indonesian National Committee for Transportation Safety, reportedly said. So far on Thursday, bad weather and rough seas have hindered the search efforts.
Update as of 12:45 a.m. EST: Hours after clear skies had raised hopes of resumption of search operations for AirAsia Flight 8501 in the Java Sea, weather in the region has reportedly worsened again. Bad weather and rough seas have so far prevented divers from reaching the sea floor where the suspected wreckage of the plane was spotted on Wednesday.
“Clouds have started to descend again ... and the weather conditions will deteriorate again,” Tatang Zaenudin, an Indonesian search and rescue official said, according to a BBC report.
The search operation to locate the bodies of victims of AirAsia Flight 8501 resumed in the Java Sea on Thursday after a let up in stormy weather in the region, according to media reports. Over 50 divers from the Indonesian navy and the country’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) were reportedly preparing to descend to the floor of the Java Sea to explore what they suspect is the wreckage of the Airbus A320-200.
“The weather is clear today. We're making an all-out effort to search for bodies and locate the fuselage,” Sunarbowo Sandi, an Indonesian search and rescue official, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Jan. 1, adding that foreign experts would also join Indonesian rescue workers to assist in the search for the wreckage and the black boxes.
On Wednesday, the fourth day of a multinational search operation, Indonesian officials had claimed to have located the wreckage of AirAsia Flight 8501 on the sea floor, using sonar equipment.
“Ten investigators from the national transport safety committee along with two French and two Singapore investigators will join the search today to locate the fuselage,” he reportedly said. “We hope that an underwater beacon will be able to detect the weak signal transmitted by the ELT (emergency locator transmitter).”
As of now, rescuers have managed to recover seven bodies from the sea, of which four have been transferred to Surabaya, Indonesia, according to media reports. Sandi told AFP that the three remaining bodies would be airlifted to the town of Pangkalan Bun later on Thursday.
Meanwhile, on New Year’s Eve, hundreds of the victims’ relatives, as well as residents of Surabaya, gathered for a prayer service in the city's airport, from where the plane had taken off on Sunday for Singapore. A candle-light vigil was reportedly held for the 162 people on board Flight 8501.