According to Indonesian officials, searchers have located the tail section of the AirAsia jet that crashed into the Java Sea on Dec. 28. The section may hold the black box flight recorders that could provide crucial data on why Flight QZ8501 vanished from radar during its flight from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board.
While there has been much speculation about a possible cause, officials have yet to come up with any fact-based theory.
“We’ve found the tail that has been our main target today,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s search and rescue operation, said during a news conference in Jakarta, according to Reuters. The search team has not yet located the recorders, however, and is “still desperately trying” to do so, said Soelistyo.
If it’s the “right part of the tail section, then the black box should be there,” Tony Fernandes, the airline’s chief executive, tweeted after the announcement. “We need to find all parts soon so we can find all our guests to ease the pain of our families. That still is our priority.”
Forty bodies have been recovered from the sea off Borneo so far.
Numerous pieces of debris have been spotted, including plane doors, life jackets and safety slides. Four large objects identified by sonar are thought to be part of the fuselage of the plane, resting in about 100 feet of water and therefore reachable by divers, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Indonesia’s minister of transport suspended AirAsia’s license to fly the Surabaya-to-Singapore route, saying the airline did not have permission to fly it on Sundays, the day when the flight vanished.
Bad weather has slowed the search, which involves aircraft, ships and divers from the United States, Japan, Singapore, Russia, France and Australia, in addition to Indonesia.