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Rescuers Fail Again to Lift AirAsia 8501 Fuselage From Ocean Floor

Image: Recovery Operation of the Crashed AirAsia Jet
Indonesian rescue personnel ride on rubber boats during the recovery operation of the victims and wreckage of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 airliner. EPA/STRSTR / EPA

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PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia - The second attempt to lift the fuselage of the crashed AirAsia jetliner failed Sunday as the wreckage sank back to the ocean floor when a rope linking the lifting balloons broke.

Navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir said strong current was the main obstacle. The rope had been fastened and linked to a ship, but broke again as the fuselage was lifted.

"We could not fight against nature," Simorangkir said.

The attempt on Saturday failed because lifting balloons deflated. Divers reached the fuselage for the first time on Friday. Most of the victims are believed to be inside.

Simorangkir said rescuers retrieved one body Sunday that floated as the fuselage was being raised.

A total of 70 bodies have been discovered from Flight QZ8501, which crashed Dec. 28 with 162 people on board while flying from Surabaya to Singapore.

Bad weather is a suspected factor in the crash. The pilots asked for permission to climb to a higher altitude, but air traffic controllers couldn't allow it because of heavy air traffic. The flight disappeared soon afterward.

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- The Associated Press

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