World Bulletin/News Desk
An Indonesian search and rescue official said on Wednesday that none of the bodies recovered so far from the crashed AirAsia jet had been wearing a life jacket.
"There is no victim that has been found wearing a life jacket," said Tatang Zaenudin, deputy head of operations at the national search and rescue agency.
"We found a body at 8.20 a.m. and a life jacket at 10.32 a.m. so there was a time difference. This is the latest information we have," he added.
The same official told Reuters earlier that one of the recovered bodies had been wearing a life jacket.
Ships and planes had been scouring the Java Sea for Flight QZ8501 since Sunday, when it lost contact during bad weather about 40 minutes into its flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
Seven bodies have been recovered from the sea, some fully clothed, which could indicate the Airbus A320-200 was intact when it hit the water. That would support a theory that it suffered an aerodynamic stall.
And yet the pilots did not issue a distress signal. The plane disappeared after it asked for permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather.
Most of those on board were Indonesians. No survivors have been found.
Hernanto, head of the search and rescue agency in Surabaya, said rescuers believed they had found the plane on the sea bed with a sonar scan in water 30-50 metres (100-165 feet) deep. The black box flight data and cockpit voice recorder has yet to be found.
Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to receive and identify bodies, including arranging 130 ambulances to take victims to a police hospital and collecting DNA from relatives.
"We are praying it is the plane so the evacuation can be done quickly," Hernanto said.
Strong wind and waves hampered the search and with visibility at less than a kilometre (half a mile), the air operation was called off in the afternoon.
"We are all standing by," Dwi Putranto, heading the air force search effort in Pangalan Bun on Borneo, told Reuters.
"If we want to evacuate bodies from the water, it's too difficult. The waves are huge and it's raining."
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said his priority was retrieving the bodies.
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 centre at Surabaya airport.
AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes has described the crash as his "worst nightmare".
The plane was travelling at 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet. When air traffic controllers granted permission for a rise to 34,000 feet a few minutes later, they received no response.
Online discussion among pilots has centred on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled.
Investigators are focusing initially on whether the crew took too long to request permission to climb, or could have ascended on their own initiative earlier, said a source close to the inquiry, adding that poor weather could have played a part as well.
The Indonesian captain, a former air force fighter pilot, had 6,100 flying hours under his belt and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, said the airline, which is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia .
Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country's aviation industry and spooked travellers.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing in March on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew and has not been found. On July 17, the same airline's Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Aralık 2014, 17:38