The search for AirAsia Flight 8501 has been expanded to the north of the Java Sea after fishermen located human remains and debris suspected to be from the plane, The Straits Times reported Thursday. The search for victims was earlier concentrated in the Karimata Strait, south of Pangkalan Bun in Borneo island, where the plane crashed on Dec. 28, with 162 people on board.
The search has now been expanded to the Makassar Strait, located east of Karimata Strait. Authorities said that fishermen found two bones believed to be from human feet in separate locations along Pinrang Regency, about 500 miles from the search zone in Karimata Strait, The Straits Times reported.
“One bone found this morning paired with [the other]. Both were found with trainers of the same brand, black Adidas with a yellow base,” Fauzan Mahmud of the Indonesian search and rescue team said, according to The Jakarta Post, adding that the bones were found about 10 miles apart. Local fisherman also located parts of an overhead cabin locker suspected to be from the Airbus A320-200.
“As the stream continues to move to the north, the search will most likely expand as far as the Central Sulawesi region,” George LM Randang, operational head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency’s Palu branch, located on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, reportedly said, adding that the findings will be the basis for the new search operation.
AirAsia said, in its latest search update, that the newly discovered remains will be sent to Surabaya for identification.
Meanwhile, an Indonesian police department charged with identifying disaster victims, announced the identities of three more passengers -- Indah Yuni (female), Saiful Rachmad (male), Joe Jeng Fei (male) -- on Wednesday, bringing the total number of bodies identified to 67. A total of 92 bodies have been recovered so far from the Java Sea, while authorities continue to search the area for more remains. The Indonesian military officially called off recovery operations last week.
Investigators are currently examining the flight data recorders to determine the cause of the crash. Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan had said last month, based on radar data, that the plane made an abnormally steep climb before stalling and crashing into the Java Sea.