Search and rescue officials say they believe the main fuselage of AirAsia Flight 8501 has been located on the Java Sea floor, some 1.7 nautical miles east of the spot where the tail was recovered.
A ship from Indonesia’s navy was on-scene Tuesday, assessing options on how to get the wreckage to the surface.
Retrieval of that part of the plane is considered vital. The director of operations of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, S. B. Supriyadi, predicts at least half the bodies of the 162 people who perished in the December 28 crash could be inside. So far, 48 bodies have been recovered.
Decomposition is making identification more difficult for desperate families waiting to bury their loved ones. Nearly all passengers and crew were Indonesian. Officials have said returning all the bodies to loved ones remains a priority.
The word on the fuselage came on the same day divers retrieved the jetliner’s second “black box” from the seabed, giving investigators essential tools to piece together what brought Flight 8501 down.