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On their third day of searching, Indonesian rescue teams today discovered debris, belongings and a few bodies from AirAsia’s missing flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 passengers that lost radar contact with air traffic controllers during a storm over the Java Sea this past Sunday. So far, three bodies have been recovered from amidst debris found in shallow waters off the island of Borneo, prompting teams to move into position in the Indonesian-Bornese town of Pangkalan Bun to begin a recovery operation and formal investigation.
Today’s recovery efforts were eventually hampered by harsh weather, strong currents and almost 10-foot-high waves, but search-and-rescue teams hope to resume operations overnight. Meanwhile, a sonar-equipped ship and approximately 50 divers are being brought to the area, where waters are at most 105 feet deep, in anticipation of investigating the sea floor for wreckage and additional bodies.
The bodies recovered so far will be brought first to Pangkalan Bun for identification, then to a crisis center in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, the flight’s point of origin. Assuming the plane’s black box data recorders are found, aviation investigators anticipate that it may take three to four months to uncover answers as to what happened to Flight QZ8501.
Meanwhile, AirAsia’s flight number Z2272, an A320-200 codeshare with AirAsia’s Philippines-specific Zest brand that was carrying 159 passengers from Manila, Philippines (MNL) to Kalibo, Philippines (KLO), overshot the runway at the latter while arriving amidst heavy turbulence at dusk. Fortunately, the briefly errant aircraft soon came to a solid stop on a grassy area just beyond the end of KLO’s runway, and all passengers and crew were safely evacuated via the plane’s emergency slide.
Here’s hoping that this is the last airborne incident of the year. Asia and the aviation industry could surely use some peace as we head into the new year.