Russian divers join search for AirAsia disaster victims

Russian divers join search for AirAsia disaster victims

Indonesian air force members keep Beriev BE- 200 plane belonging to Russia in the Air Field Iskandar Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Sunday (Jan. 4), to assist with the evacuation AirAsia QZ8501 involving Russian divers. (ANTARA/Suryanto)

Kotawaringin Barat (ANTARA News) - Russia has sent 17 divers to help in the search for the victims of AirAsia flight QZ8501 disaster in the sea off Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

The 17 divers would join other divers on board an Indonesian warship KRI Banda Aceh which has been assigned with the task of searching and evacuating the victims.

The Airbus A320-200 aircraft crashed in the sea in the Karimata Strait on Sunday (Dec. 28, 2014) with 162 people on board including 7 crew members all feared dead.

The aircraft of the AirAsia Indonesia airline wan en route from Surabaya, East Java to Singapore.

Tens of ships including warships and aircraft took part in the search but the rescue workers have found only 31 bodies after 8 days of searching until Sunday Jan. 4.

Bad weather in the location has often hampered the search coordinated by the Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarna).

The divers are also expected to locate the body of the aircraft and the black box in the seabed 32 meters below the water.

Earlier Basarnas chief Air Vice Marshall FH Bambang Soelistyo said two Russian aircraft had also arrived to help in the search and rescue work.

Bambang Soelistyo said the Russian aircraft had joined the search and rescue mission in the Karimata Straits, adding one of the aircraft could land on the water that would make evacuation easier.

Ships and aircraft from other countries including from the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and neighboring countries have also took part of the search and rescue mission.

All rescued bodies have been flown to Surabaya for identification . The Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team of the Indonesian police has succeeded only in identifying six of the bodies to be handed over to their respective relatives.

The air disaster occurred less than an hour after the aircraft of the AirAsia Indonesia airline took off from Surabaya, East Java for Singapore.

On Sunday (Jan 4), Bambang Soelistyo said bad weather in the Karimata Strait with heavy raidn and big waves hampered the search and rescue operation.

"Operation was already tried by sending two divers to the sea this morning when the weather was good," he said in Jakarta, adding , but later rain and big waves began to hit.