Indonesian authorities say search teams have identified two large objects in the Java Sea, in what is thought could be a breakthrough in the hunt for the wreckage of an AirAsia passenger jet.
They are trying to get images using a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle.
Until now pieces of debris have been found but there’s been no sign of the crucial black box flight recorders it’s hoped will reveal what caused AirAsia flight QZ8501 to crash.
The head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, Henry Bambang Soelistyo, said the objects – both several metres long – had been found about 30 metres underwater. Oil slicks had also been discovered.
“I can assure you from the oil spill and the two big objects that we found, I can confirm that this is the part of the AirAsia aircraft that we’ve been looking for,” he told a news conference in Jakarta.
Much of the effort so far has focused on finding the 162 people on board the Airbus. Another 21 bodies were recovered on Friday, some 30 in all.
A multi-national task force of ships, planes and helicopters has been scouring the northern Java Sea and the coastline of southern Borneo – taking advantage of a brief break in bad weather that has hampered the search.
The Indonesian transport ministry has said the plane didn’t have permission to follow the route it took on the day of the crash.
Investigators are working on a theory that the plane stalled as it climbed steeply to avoid a storm about 40 minutes into a flight that should have lasted two hours.
A source close to the investigation said radar data appeared to show the aircraft made an “unbelievably” steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the A320’s limits.
The plane was en route from Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya to Singapore.
On board the doomed flight were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.