REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, MAKASSAR -- After finding a piece of debris of AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the region, the joint search and rescue (SAR) team decided to widen its operations to Makassar Strait.
"Following the discovery of a passenger seat and other debris on Wednesday (January 28) by local fishermen, we are coordinating with the Basarnas (National Search and Rescue Agency) and have been ordered to establish a searching post in West Sulawesi," Chief of Region A of Makassar's Basarnas, Roki Asikin, said here on Thursday.
The SAR team will focus on the search for and retrieval of the debris and victims of the AirAsia aircraft in the waters of Sendana, Majene, and Central Mamuju in West Sulawesi.
Furthermore, two bodies suspected to be passengers of the AirAsia flight were found in the waters of Majene on Wednesday, a local authority reported.
The bodies had drifted to this region considering that it is the west wind season, which means that winds blow from the west in an eastward direction, Asikin stated.
The direction of the winds may have caused the debris to drift from the waters of southern Kalimantan to the north through the Makassar Strait and reach the waters of southern Sulawesi, the Basarnas regional chief explained.
The SAR team was assisted in its search operations by the local water police unit of the Majene Resort Police.
The two bodies found were identified as Syaiful Rahmat, a resident of RT 009 RW 009 of Halim Perdanakusumah village, East Jakarta, and Joe Jong Fei, a resident of Taman Kendang Sari, Surabaya, East Java.
It is believed that Rahmat may have been the technician of the ill-fated AirAsia aircraft.
Till January 28, 32 days since AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed, as many as 56 bodies of passengers were identified, while the DVI team is still in the process of identifying the bodies of 14 others.
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 included three Koreans, a Singaporean, a Briton, a Malaysian, and the French FO.