PANGKALAN BUN: Divers looking for the wreck of an Indonesia AirAsia jet off Borneo were unable to resume full-scale operations on Thursday in poor weather and heavy seas and an air safety official said it could take a week to find the black box flight recorders.
Dive crews were on standby to descend to a large object detected by sonar on the ocean floor, lying just 30-50 meters (100-165 feet) deep, which rescuers believe is the Airbus A320-200, which was carrying 162 people when it crashed on Sunday en route from the city of Surabaya to Singapore.
"I am hoping that the latest information is correct and aircraft has been found," airline boss Tony Fernandes tweeted on Thursday. "Please all hope together. This is so important."
Toos Sanitiyoso, an air safety investigator with the National Committee for Transportation Safety, said he hoped the black box flight data and voice recorders could be found within a week, suggesting there was still doubt over the plane's location.
"The main thing is to find the main area of the wreckage and then the black box," he told reporters.
None of the tell-tale black box "pings" had been detected, he said.
"There are two steps of finding the black box. One is we try to find the largest portion of the wreckage....,” he said.
Investigators are working on a theory that the plane went into a stall as it climbed steeply to avoid a storm about 40 minutes into the flight.
So far, at least seven bodies have been recovered from waters near the suspected crash site, along with debris such a suitcase, an emergency slide and a life jacket.
The bodies are being taken in numbered coffins to Surabaya, where relatives of the victims have gathered, for identification. Authorities have been collecting DNA from relatives to help identify the bodies.
"We are asking universities to work with us - from the whole country," said Anton Castilani, executive director at Indonesia's disaster victims identification committee.
Most of those on board were Indonesians. No survivors have been found.
Relatives, many of whom collapsed in grief when they saw the first grim television pictures confirming their fears on Tuesday, held prayers at a crisis center at Surabaya airport. - Reuters