Two “large objects” were found by an Indonesian ship with sonar equipment in the Java Sea while searching for the missing AirAsia Flight 8501, officials said Saturday. However, investigators have not been able to examine the objects yet as strong currents and bad weather are hampering the search operations, National Search and Rescue Agency reportedly said.
The two objects were reportedly found around 90 feet underwater. The search agency is deploying a remote-operated vehicle that will try to capture images of the objects. The first object measures 30 feet by 15 feet by 1.3 feet, while the second is 24 feet by 1.6 feet, Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the agency, said, according to Reuters.
"With the discovery of an oil spill and two big parts of the aircraft, I can assure you these are the parts of the AirAsia plane we have been looking for," Soelistyo told reporters in the capital Jakarta, according to Channel News Asia. "As I speak we are lowering an ROV (remotely operated underwater vehicle) underwater to get an actual picture of the objects detected on the sea floor.”
He added that bad weather conditions and large waves in the search area were making it difficult to operate the ROVs.
Search teams are also looking for the plane’s black boxes that could help determine the cause of the crash.
"After the black box is found, we are able to issue a preliminary report in one month," Toos Sanitioso, an investigator with the National Committee for Transportation Safety, said on Friday, according to Reuters. "We cannot yet speculate what caused the crash."
The plane, which was on its way to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia, on Dec. 28 with 162 people on board, was traveling at a height of 32,000 feet when the pilot requested a change of course to avoid bad weather. That was the last known communication from the plane.
Search teams have so far recovered 46 bodies from the Java Sea and are looking for more victims and the plane’s fuselage, which is believed to be largely intact and at the bottom of the sea.
Investigators have so far identified four bodies, including a crew member and an 11-year-old boy, through dental records, fingerprints and medical records, while the identification for the rest of the recovered bodies are underway.
"Many of passengers believed to be still trapped inside the plane's fuselage and could be discovered soon," Supriyadi reportedly said, "God willing, we would complete this operation next week."