Indonesia expands search for bodies from AirAsia crash

This picture taken at sea in the Karimata strait on January 3, 2015 shows a member of the Indonesian Navy looking towards a tube believed to be a part from AirAsia flight QZ8501. AFP Photo

Recovery teams expanded their search in the Java Sea on Jan. 5 as they raced to find bodies and wreckage from AirAsia Flight 8501, which authorities fear have drifted in rough weather that has hampered operations over the past week.

As the massive relief effort entered its ninth day, officials were hopeful for a break in poor conditions to send divers down to the area where large parts of the crashed Airbus A320-200 have been found.

Only 34 bodies have so far been recovered from the disaster scene and there is no sign yet of the "black box" flight data recorders, which are key to determining the cause of the incident on December 28.

A total of 162 people were onboard when the plane crashed into the sea during a storm, en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

"Hopefully the weather is good today so that the ROVs (remotely-operated underwater vehicles) and other instruments can be used and our divers can go to the seabed again," search and rescue official S.B. Supriyadi told AFP.

He said he was hopeful they would find "all the parts" of the aircraft Jan.  and get its exact coordinates underwater.

"Yesterday when our divers went down, the visibility was very bad," Supriyadi added.

Recovery crews nonetheless made some progress on Sunday, retrieving four more bodies and locating a fifth large chunk of the plane.

The discoveries came after Indonesia's meterological agency BMKG said that weather was the "triggering factor" of the crash with ice likely damaging the plane's engines.

Supriyadi said the search, which is being assisted by several countries, including the United States and Russia, would expand eastwards Monday on suspicions that strong currents have caused parts of...

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