*UPDATED 1/8/15* Divers have found the plane’s tail, but poor visibility and strong currents are keeping them from recovering it. The black box is believed to be in the tail, so it will soon be lifted, possibly with a crane, to get the box. The total of bodies retrieved is up to 44 now.
*UPDATED 1/2/15* On Friday, more than 20 bodies were recovered, many of them by the U.S. Navy ship Sampson, bringing the numbers up to 30 bodies recovered. Two of the 30 bodies were found still buckled into their seats. 4 bodies have been identified so far, and no survivors have been found. The French are using their sophisticated underwater acoustic detection devices (hydrophones) to try to find the two “black boxes”- the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder- which will explain what happened to make the plane fall from the sky. However bad weather and high waves are still majorly hampering the speed at which they can retrieve all the bodies and find the black boxes.
Some debris has recently been discovered that has been officially linked to the missing aircraft. The Guardian is giving continuous updates throughout this time. Wall Street Journal’s Jason Ng’s tweeted from an Indonesian press conference updates on what’s happening now. Indonesia’s search and rescue agency recently reported a sonar image that was taken by an Indonesian navy ship where it appeared to show the aircraft upside down on the Java Sea ocean floor about 24-30 meters (79-98 feet) down. High waves and rough weather are slowing down the effort to get to the bottom of all this. According to Fox News, the massive hunt to find and identify the 162 victims on board at the time of the crash is continuous, although the terrible weather is slowing down their progress. 6 bodies, including a flight attendant identified by her trademark red uniform have been recovered so far. Three bodies were retrieved Tuesday (local time), and 3 have been recovered today on Wednesday (local time). Half are female and half are male, including the flight attendant. Ships, planes, and helicopters from all over the world are continuing to be deployed, including a U.S. Navy ship, to help with the search and rescue mission. Dozens of elite military divers also joined the search.
Distraught family members are anxiously waiting to identify their loved ones. Many family members admit that they did not expect good news, but to hear the confirmation feels like a bullet in the heart. “I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead,” said Ifan Joko, who lost seven family members, three of them children, as they traveled to Singapore to celebrate the new year. “We still pray they are alive.” When TV broadcasted an image of a half-naked man floating in the water, a shirt partially covering his head, many of the family members screamed and wailed uncontrollably. One middle-aged man collapsed and had to be carried out on a stretcher. About 125 family members are planning to travel Wednesday to Pangkalan Bun to start identifying their loved ones. Body bags and coffins have been prepared at three hospitals there.
A theory of what caused the plane crash is that Flight 8501 was rising in altitude but was losing speed at a velocity that was too slow to sustain flight. Therefore, the plane may have stalled mid-climb. The bad weather definitely seemed to contribute to the crash.
The difference between Flight 8501 and MH370 is that the AirAsia flight is believed to have crashed into the Java Sea, which is much more shallow and busy than the southern Indian Ocean, where MH370 was last seen flying over. Also, the MH370 pilots made no radio transmissions about the plane’s mysterious change of course, while one of the Flight 8501 pilots communicated with air traffic control that he wanted to turn and climb to avoid bad weather.