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Stong currents stop divers reaching AirAsia jet main body
[PANGKALAN BUN] Indonesian divers on Friday again failed to reach the main body of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the sea last month with 162 people on board, as strong underwater currents hampered efforts.
Flight QZ8501 went down in the Java Sea on December 28 in stormy weather, during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
The plane's black boxes were recovered this week, providing investigators with a wealth of information to determine what caused the crash, and on Wednesday a Singapore navy vessel spotted the fuselage, the jet's main body.
So far just 51 bodies of the crash victims have been recovered, but authorities hope the main section will contain most of those belonging to passengers and crew.
Underwater photos taken by high-tech search equipment showed the fuselage and part of Malaysia-based AirAsia's motto - "Now Everyone Can Fly" - painted on the plane's exterior.
For the past two days, divers have been trying to reach the wreckage but the inhospitable conditions in the area have prevented them from accessing it.
Search and rescue agency official SB Supriyadi said that on Friday "the divers were hampered by strong currents which them stopped from reaching the fuselage".
Officials say that if it proves difficult to retrieve bodies from the main section while it is still on the seabed, search and rescue teams will try to lift it.
The plane's tail was raised out of the water last weekend using giant balloons.
There was a huge international hunt for the crashed plane, involving ships from several countries including the US and China, but the search has now been scaled back.
The jet's black boxes, the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been flown to Jakarta, where the National Transportation Safety Committee and international experts have started a probe.
Indonesia's meteorological agency has said bad weather may have caused the crash, but only the black boxes will be able to provide definitive answers.
All but seven of those on board the flight were Indonesian.