Indonesian search-and-rescue divers managed to retrieve one of two black boxes from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 early Monday morning, which could provide some clues as to what happened to the doomed flight. While the other box has been spotted, its retrieval is still in progress.
According to John Bacon and William M. Welch of USA Today, underwater searchers spent 12 hours Sunday at a depth of 100 feet in the Java Sea to try to find the black boxes, which contain the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Suyadi Bambang Supriyadi, operations coordinator at Indonesia's national search and rescue agency, noted that the efforts to find them were hampered by murky conditions and strong currents.
"Divers will attempt to recover the black boxes by gradually shifting these layers of debris from the plane's body," Supriyadi said as Monday's search began. "Hopefully, weather and sea currents are friendly today, so our drivers can retrieve this very important instrument."
USA Today added that four divers brought the flight data recorder to the surface. CBS News confirmed that the cockpit voice recorder has also been found by divers, who are attempting to recover it.
According to Jewel Topsfield of Sydney Morning Herald, search teams from Indonesia may have also found the fuselage of the AirAsia jet. Tonny Budiono, a navigation director for Indonesia's transport ministry, elaborated on what was found so far.
"The navy divers in Jadayat state boat have succeeded in finding a very important instrument, the black box of AirAsia QZ8501," Budiono said.
Supriyadi told reporters that a sonar scan picked up an object Sunday. Topsfield described the object as "measuring 10 meters by four meters by 2.5 meters on the sea floor."
"They suspect it is the body of the plane," Surpriyadi said. "If it is the body of the plane, then we will first evacuate the victims."
Budiono described the amount of effort it would take to extract the black boxes from the watery depths.
"The black boxes are in a crushed part of the aircraft debris, making it very difficult for the team of divers," Budiono said. "Because of time constraints, (we) have decided to retrieve the black boxes tomorrow morning by gradually shifting these layers of aircraft body debris."
If the original extraction plan fails, Topsfield wrote that divers would rely on "inflatable balloons" to lift the debris. This technique was previously used to lift the tail section to the surface on Saturday.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes went on Twitter to describe the ongoing search efforts.
"We are led to believe Blackbox may have been found," Fernandes wrote. "Still not confirmed. But strong info coming. But my main thoughts is fuselage."
However, not all Indonesian officials agreed on the reports that the black boxes have already been found. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Indonesian navy spokesperson Manahan Simorangkir denied that the black box had been found, noting that divers were unable to confirm its exact location due to inclement weather.
However, the chief of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, Henry Bambang Soelistyo, expressed to USA Today that the pings could indicate the presence of black boxes.
"There are signals, or pings, which are suspected to be of the black boxes," Soelistyo said.
According to USA Today, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency reported in a statement Sunday that about 40 bodies have been recovered so far. AirAsia added that identities have been confirmed on 32 of the remains.