Divers search wreckage of AirAsia jet's tail for black boxes

Underwater photograph of what is believed to be wreckage of AirAsia QZ8501 in Java Sea. RUETERS Photo / BASARNAS / Handout

Scores of divers plunged into the Java Sea on Jan. 8 to search the wreckage of an AirAsia  jet for the black box recorders that could reveal why the plane crashed, Indonesia's search and rescue agency said.

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.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery, with hopes centring on the so-called black boxes - the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder - providing vital clues. The plane which crashed was an Airbus A320-200, which carries the recorders near the tail section.

The tail of the plane was found on Wednesday, upturned on the sea bed about 30 km (20 miles) from the plane's last known location at a depth of around 28-32 metres.

"After we found the tail, our plan is to do everything step by step," Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta. "First we will (check whether) the black box is still at its place, in the tail, or if it has detached."

A total of 84 divers are in ships in the vicinity and teams began searching the jet's tail at 0645 local time (2345 GMT Wednesday), with visibility poor and strong currents still impeding efforts, Soelistyo added.

Should diving teams confirm the location of the recorders, the tail will probably be plucked out of the sea using a crane capable of lifting 70 tonnes.

Ships with acoustic "pinger locators" designed to pick up signals from the black boxes were at the location but were no longer being used, in a possible sign of confidence among Indonesian...

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