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Ships detect two large parts of AirAsia plane

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Indonesian ships have detected two large objects believed to be parts of the AirAsia plane that crashed off Borneo island with 162 people on board, the search chief said Saturday.

“We managed to detect two large objects – one three-dimensioned, another two-dimensioned,” Bambang Sulistyo said.

“I can confirm that they are parts of the plane we are looking for,” he said.

One object measures 9.4 x 4.8 x 0.4 metres and the other 7.2 x 0.5 metres and they were close to each other, he said.

“We are trying to lower an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) to capture the actual image of the objects on the sea floor, at a depth of 30 metres,” Bambang said.

AirAsia’s Airbus A320-200 crashed Sunday halfway through a two-hour flight between Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, and Singapore.

The Indonesian Transportation Ministry said it has banned AirAsia from flying the Surabaya-Singapore route, after it was discovered the airline had no permit to fly the route on Sundays, the state Antara news agency said.

Ministry spokesman Julius Barata said AirAsia had a permit to serve the route only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

AirAsia could not be immediately reached for comment on the ban, whichtook effect January 2.

Bambang said at least 30 bodies have been retrieved from the crash site.

The captain of an Indonesian navy ship, Colonel Yayan Sofyan, said Friday that at least five bodies were still strapped to their seats when found.

Bambang said two Russian aircraft, including a Beriev E200 amphibious plane, had arrived to assist the search, along with about 50 Russian divers and an unmanned submersible.

He said he would assign the amphibious aircraft to look for any floating objects, especially bodies, that have strayed from the search area, while the divers would be tasked with reaching the two large objects.

In an analysis on what might have happened to the flight, Indonesian government scientists suggested that icing might have damaged the engine after the plane flew into a storm cloud.

“Based on data available on the aircraft’s last location, weather was the trigger factor for the accident,” according a paper published on the website of the Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency.

“The most likely weather phenomenon was icing, which could cause damage to the aircraft’s engine due to cooling,” said the paper.

“This is just an analysis of what may have happened based on available meteorological data, and not a final conclusion on the cause of the incident.” SAPA

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