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AirAsia Search Will Continue Despite Military Withdrawal, Agency Says

The head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency said the search for bodies will continue despite the military's withdrawal a month after the crash.

The head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency on Wednesday vowed to continue the search for victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, despite the country’s military withdrawing from the search Tuesday, a month after the crash.

"The search operation will continue. I repeat, the search and rescue operation is still on,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the rescue agency, known as BASARNAS, told reporters Wednesday morning. So far 70 bodies have been recovered but 92 are still missing after the Airbus A320 crashed en route to Singapore with 162 people aboard on Dec. 28.

The search agency could call on the military again for assistance if needed. Soelistyo said searchers don’t believe any more bodies are within the plane’s fuselage, which remains submerged in the Java Sea after unsuccessful efforts to raise the wreckage.

The search for more bodies will resume Saturday and will consist of seven ships, 60 divers and eight salvage experts. An air search will be conducted as well, Soelistyo said. If no bodies are found in seven days of searching, the search would be evaluated on a daily basis, he said.

The AirAsia flight lost contact with air-traffic controllers as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, shortly after the pilot requested a course change to avoid stormy weather.


— Phil Helsel