REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Bad weather and strong winds and sea currents have impeded the search operation for AirAsia QZ8501's passengers, Chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) FHB Soelistyo said.
"Due to bad weather, Basarnas has not been able to carry out its operation at the search location for the past four days," FHB Soelistyo stated here Friday.
Bad weather has been persisting at the search area since Feb.9, causing strong winds and high waves at the Karimata Strait, Central Kalimantan, Soelistyo added.
While the velocity of winds reached 35 knots, sea currents at the search area was at five knots.
High waves and high intensity rain have also been hampering the search efforts.
"Unpredictable rains have made the search for missing passengers difficult," Soelistyo remarked.
The Disaster Identification Team of the East Java Police identified eight more bodies of QZ8501's passengers on Friday.
On the 48th day since QZ8501 crashed, the number of bodies identified has reached 89. The process of identifying 13 more bodies, two of them are not intact, are going on at Bhayangkara Hospital.
The AirAsia Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 people had gone missing on the morning of December 28 after losing contact with air traffic control on its way from Surabaya, East Java, to Singapore.
Flight QZ8501 lost contact after the pilot sought permission to climb to 38 thousand feet from 32 thousand feet to avoid stormy weather over the sea between Bangka Belitung and West Kalimantan.
The aircraft carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members took off from Juanda International airport in Surabaya at 5:36 a.m. local time and lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control at 6:17 a.m. local time.
The plane, piloted by Captain Iriyanto and First Officer (FO) Remi Emmanuel Plesel, was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. local time.
Seven foreigners were among the passengers of the missing jet. The foreign nationals were three Koreans, a Singaporean, a Briton, a Malaysian, and the French FO.