Singapore ship finds main wreckage, divers to check
SINGAPORE/PANGKALAN BUN, INDONESIA
A REPUBLIC of Singapore Navy (RSN) ship has found the main wreckage of the Indonesia AirAsia plane that crashed in the Java Sea two weeks ago.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post yesterday that the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle of RSN ship, MV Swift Rescue, had taken photos showing a wing and a part of the fuselage with words on it.
Dr Ng said that Singapore has informed Basarnas, the Indonesian search authority, so it can recover the missing parts of Flight QZ8501.
"The accident is a tragic event resulting in the loss of many lives. I hope that with the fuselage located, some form of closure can come to the families of the victims to ease their grief," he said.
He also thanked all the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen who were part of the multinational search party for QZ8501.
His post was accompanied by underwater photos of what appeared to be the fuselage. The words "now" and "everyone" are visible, apparently from AirAsia's motto - "Now Everyone Can Fly" - painted on the plane's exterior.
The SAF has deployed more than 400 personnel, two Republic of Singapore Air Force C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters, five navy ships and a six-man Autonomous Underwater Vehicle team in the operation.
Indonesia's national search and rescue chief, Bambang Soelistyo, confirmed that the fuselage had been found by the Singapore ship and said divers would head to the wreckage today.
"The main focus is to find victims in the fuselage," he told AFP. "If it's difficult, we will lift (the fuselage) up either in part or in whole."
Meanwhile, Indonesia AirAsia says it committed "administrative negligence" when requesting a change in its Surabaya-Singapore flight schedule, adding that the firm had only verbally informed the Transport Ministry about operating the route on Sundays.
Speaking on Tuesday regarding the incident at the first hearing with House of Representatives Commission V on transport, Indonesia AirAsia president director Sunu Widyatmoko said based on the flight permit issued by the ministry, the airline was allowed to fly four days a week: on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The low-cost carrier later verbally requested a change in schedule to fly on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays to the ministry's directorate general of air transport.
"I admitted that administrative negligence occurred when requesting the change in flight schedule, as the verbal information failed to reach the ministry," he said.
THE STRAITS TIMES, AFP, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK