Jakarta, Jan 4 (IANS) International search teams Sunday found in the sea bodies of four more people who were on board the AirAsia jet which crashed Dec 28, taking the number of bodies recovered so far to 34.
A Seahawk helicopter of the US navy delivered three bodies to the evacuation command post of the crashed jet first followed by a Singaporean helicopter that brought the fourth body and pieces of debris.
Xinhua quoted Singapore’s ministry of defence as saying that one of its naval ships found the fourth body from the crash site at 7.58 a.m.
The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency also unloaded two large objects wrapped in silver covers from the Singaporean helicopter that were believed to be debris of the crashed AirAsia plane.
The bodies were rushed to the Imanuddin hospital in central Kalimantan province in Indonesia’s Borneo island before being transported to Surabaya from where the aircraft had taken off for Singapore.
The AirAsia flight with 155 passengers and seven crew members went missing soon after taking off.
The Airbus A320-200 was cruising at an altitude of 32,000 feet when it lost contact with the air traffic control amid a thunderstorm in the area over Java Sea.
The jetliner is believed to have crashed near Karimata Strait, 153 km from Pangkalan Bun in central Kalimantan province.
Aviation experts conjecture that the absence of any crash transmission data meant that the experienced former air force pilot might have executed a perfect emergency landing on sea before the jet was swamped by high waves amid the raging storm.
The plane’s debris was spotted Tuesday. The first victim was identified Thursday.
Four large objects believed to be of the plane were found Saturday, the biggest one being 18 meters long.
Another large object — 9.8 metres long, 1.1 metres wide and 0.4 metre high — was found by Indonesian teams Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, an instrument called pinger was deployed to find the black boxes of the plane.
The instrument was transferred to the Baruna Jaya I research ship.
The pinger locator would be deployed under the sea to send a signal to the missing plane’s black boxes, Indonesia’s Antara News Agency quoted an official as saying.
“The black box instrument is expected to respond to the call signal, so (that their) location could be identified,” he added.
Officials have said that the search operation was focused on locating the plane’s black boxes.
Taking part in the international search operation are teams from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, South Korea, Russia and the US.
Bad weather hampered search and rescue operations Sunday.