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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, February 19, 2018

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AirAsia fuselage salvage operation fails amid bad weather

Fuselage of AirAsia Flight Q8501

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JAKARTA, Indonesia - Indonesian salvage teams attempting to raise the fuselage of AirAsia Flight Q8501 from the Java Sea on Saturday have failed, but began again Sunday.

Salvage officials said ropes holding the AirAsia fuselage snapped, but added that four more bodies had been recovered from the wreckage of the crashed airliner.

The operation to raise the fuselage came a day after divers were able to enter the main section of the plane for the first time since it was found earlier this month.

Rough weather conditions for the past week have prevented rescuers reaching the main part of the Airbus A320-200, which is believed to hold the majority of the victims whose bodies are still missing.

"We were not successful today," a rescue agency official said Saturday. "The sling snapped, so the main body fell back to the sea floor."

The operation to lift the main body resumed on Sunday, officials have said, adding that a sonar scan had detected an object "suspected to be the cockpit" of the plane about 500m from the fuselage.

However, search teams will prioritise floating the main body of the airliner before verifying the object suspected to be the cockpit.

It is hoped that once the fuselage is lifted, it will be easier to inspect the inside of the main section, enabling rescue teams to recover the bodies of those still missing.

The airliner's black boxes - the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder - were recovered last week and investigators are analysing their contents.

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28th in stormy weather, during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. There were 162 people on board and all were killed.

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