PANGKALA BUN, INDONESIA - Indonesia scaled down search and recovery efforts January 27 for the bodies and wreckage of an AirAsia passenger jet that crashed last month as the military pulled out from the operation, navy officials said.
Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501 vanished from radar screens on December 28, less than half way into a two-hour flight from Indonesia's second largest city Surabaya to Singapore.
All 162 people on board were killed.
“Obviously it has been 30 days so the joint team will pull out from the search area and I do not know what's next. I'm withdrawing the team because I received instruction from military chief to withdraw our assets,” Rear Admiral Widodo, commander of the Navy's Western Fleet, told reporters.
Seventy bodies have been recovered so far and sent to a hospital in Surabaya for identification.
Days of rough weather and poor visibility have hampered navy divers' efforts to find more bodies and recover the fuselage of the plane.
But Widodo said retrieving the fuselage will not be a priority now as no bodies were trapped inside.
“Whether pull up the fuselage or not doesn't affect the ongoing investigation because it is empty, according to our divers,” said Widodo.
“We apologize to the families of the victims. We've been trying our best to find the bodies. For the past two days our divers have gone down and couldn't find any bodies,” he added.
Investigators have yet to determine why the Airbus A320 crashed.
Indonesia's Transport Minister has told a parliamentary hearing radar data showed the plane climbing very fast in the minutes before contact was lost.