Amid reports of sighting of more debris by a Russian search team, divers on Tuesday recovered two more bodies from choppy waters in the Java Sea, though there was still no trace of the crucial black box of the crashed AirAsia aircraft that crashed nine days ago.
Command operational director Suryadi Supriyadi told reporters at Pangkalan Bun city that Japan's JS Onami and Malaysia's KD Kasturi ships recovered a body each from the search site on Tuesday, bring the total bodies recovered to 39 from the AirAsia plane which crashed on December 28 morning with 162 people on board. It was flying to Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya in East Java.
Onami and Kasturi are ships among vessels from several countries helping the Indonesians in the search and rescue operation.
Divers had taken advantage of a respite in bad weather at the search site to conduct searches. "Some divers have started to dive to the seabed," the National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia chief Bambang Soelistyo said.
Meanwhile, media reports said a Russian team involved in the search operation has detected objects that could be AirAsia debris. The objects were described as big, red, orange and white in colour.
They also found a "black square" object, according to a report by the Jakarta Post. Search and rescue operation is focusing on retrieving bodies and finding the Airbus A320's black box, officials said.
Supriyadi, who is coordinating the operation from the southern Borneo town of Pangkalan Bun, said ships had been not detected any "pings" from the black box's emergency locator beacon, possibly because it was buried in the seabed.
"They haven't found anything, maybe because the water is turbid and there is zero visibility," he said. "There's a possibility it is buried in mud."
Indonesian searchers on Monday said they may have found what could be the tail of the crashed flight QZ8501, the section where the crucial black boxes are located.
"We found what has a high probability of being the tail of the plane," Yayan Sofyan, the captain of an Indonesian patrol vessel, had said. However, the Indonesian search and rescue agency is yet to confirm the discovery.
China has also dispatched a naval rescue ship to join the search operations to locate the black box of the ill-fated AirAsia jet.
Equipped with underwater search and detect devices and 48 divers, the Peoples' Liberation Army naval vessel left the Sanya port on Monday night and would reach the area of the crash on January 9.
The ship, which earlier took part in the search operation of the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, will help in the search for the debris of the Airbus 320-200 Flight QZ8501 and bodies of the victims.
Indonesian authorities have also removed four air traffic control officers from Surabaya's Juanda International airport over the reportedly unapproved flight.
Reports said the four officers had failed to check the approved flight schedule for AirAsia Indonesia, the operator of the Kuala Lumpur-based budget airline.
Separately, media reports said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore reiterated on Tuesday that it is an airline's responsibility to separately obtain approval of their flight schedules from the respective civil aviation authorities at each end of the flight routing.
"There is no need for coordination between the two authorities in approving the airlines' schedules. This is international practice," said Margaret Tan, CAAS' Director (Air Transport).
Questions had been raised about the coordination between Indonesia and Singapore's aviation authorities as AirAsia was reportedly not allowed to fly the Surabaya-Singapore-route on Sunday, which is when the crash occurred, said the reports.