On the ninth day of the search and rescue (SAR) operation surrounding AirAsia Flight QZ8501, a joint multinational team was striving to recover more bodies as well as find the locations of the plane's black boxes.
National Search and Rescue Team (Basarnas) chief Air Chief Marshal F. Henry Bambang Soelistyo said that despite ongoing efforts, the team had had difficulty locating the black boxes because of the weather conditions in the search location.
"We have deployed [the team]; yet, up to now, there has been no result. It is difficult in that sense," Soelistyo said on Monday, adding that remotely operated vehicles could not be used because of bad weather.
According to him, the joint team had deployed five vessels with sophisticated tools to locate the black boxes, namely the Baruna Jaya, a research vessel owned and operated by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), the Jala Daya of the National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT), the RSS Swift and the RSS Supreme from Singapore and the Crest Onyx from Russia.
The joint search and rescue teams had previously located a fifth large object on the seabed.
China, meanwhile, has said it would join the search efforts to add to the ongoing assistance from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Russia.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Monday that it had sent aviation experts and a rescue vessel to join the Indonesian search operation for the black boxes upon request from Indonesia, according to Xinhua.
Xinhua also reported that the Chinese Ministry of Transport said the rescue ship South Sea Rescue 101 had left the city of Haikou and was expected to arrive at the search site on Jan. 9, while another vessel, the South Sea Rescue 115, on standby.
Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko, however, said the joint rescue team was striving to recover the bodies of AirAsia Flight 8501 victims but the bad weather was currently hampering the search operation.
"We will not stop even though there are strong winds and high waves," said Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko while visiting the families of the AirAsia victims at the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) post at the East Java Police headquarters in Surabaya on Monday. "So please trust the TNI and its counterparts, including the international community and countries that have agreed to join us in this search operation."
Moeldoko also offered the families of the victims the chance to witness the recovery of bodies and debris in waters around the Karimata Strait, saying two aircraft - a Hercules C130 and an Airbus Military CN 295 - were being prepared to transport the families from Juanda International Airport to Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.
Three more bodies were recovered from the waters, raising the total number of bodies recovered to 37 as of Monday evening.
According to Basarnas operational director First Marshal SB Supriyadi at the Basarnas operations centre in Pangkalan Bun, as reported by Antara news agency, the three bodies were found strapped into their seats in one row by a Malaysian vessel.
Officials predicted that many passengers and crew would be found trapped inside the fuselage.
"Based on the finding, we predict 50 per cent of the passengers are still inside the plane," Supriyadi said.
The US team has also transported three seats they found on Monday to Pangkalan Bun.
The National Police's Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team has identified four more bodies out of the 162 people on board the Airbus A320.
The National Police's health and medical department head Brig. Gen. Arthur Tampi said that the DVI team had identified four bodies that were recovered by the joint SAR team last week. The bodies, codenamed B005, B022, B021 and B029, were of Shiane Josal, a 45-year-old woman who lived in Makassar, South Sulawesi, Tony Linaksita, a 42-year-old man, Lim Yan Koen, a 61-year-old male and Yongki Jou, a 53-year-old male. Three of them had lived in Surabaya,
Tony's son, 11-year-old Greyson Herbert Linaksita, was identified by the DVI team on Friday.
Although it might take time to identify the bodies that have begun to decompose, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman made assurances that all recovered bodies would be identified and handed over to their families, saying that the team already had the antemortem data of all QZ8501 passengers and crew, including the dental records of at least 60 victims.
"Hopefully, all recovered victims will be identified no matter what their condition, but it might take time to identify them," said Sutarman.
Wismoyo Ari Prambudi, 24, a flight attendant who was working on the doomed AirAsia flight, was laid to rest in a cemetery near the home of his parents in Klaten, Central Java, during a funeral on Monday that was attended by several AirAsia representatives. The DVI team announced the identification of Wismoyo's body on Sunday afternoon.