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Attempt to Lift AirAsia 8501 Crash Jet Fuselage to Surface Fails

Rescuers failed in an attempt to lifted the fuselage of the crashed AirAsia jet to the water's surface, but did recover some more bodies.
Image: Recovery mission for crashed AirAsia plane in Pangkalan Bun Indonesia
Indonesian rescuers inspect body bags of victims of crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501 on board of the Navy's war ship KRI Banda Aceh at sea off Pangkalan Bun, Central Borneo, Indonesia. EPA/STRSTR / EPA

PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia – Rescuers lifted the fuselage of the crashed AirAsia jetliner nearly to the water's surface Saturday but it sank to the ocean floor again when the lifting balloons deflated, a setback in the effort to recover more of the victims' remains.

Four bodies were discovered around the area where dozens of divers were struggling with strong current and poor visibility to prepare to retrieve the 30-meter-long wreckage, said Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, the operations chief at the National Search and Rescue Agency.

Divers reached the fuselage section for the first time on Friday and retrieved six bodies. A total of 69 bodies have now been recovered from AirAsia Flight 8501, which crashed Dec. 28 with 162 people on board while flying from Surabaya to Singapore.

Authorities believe many of the other bodies are still inside the fuselage.

"We now need additional balloons," Supriyadi said after Saturday's setback.

Some passengers' belongings such as biscuits, milk boxes, hair rollers and even an iPhone with an attached earphone, as well as aircraft parts such as seat cushions and tables, floated out as the fuselage was being lifted, the website reported.

Investigators are analyzing data from the aircraft's cockpit voice and flight data recorders with advisers from Airbus, the plane's manufacturer. A full analysis of what went wrong could take up to a year.


- The Associated Press