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New attempt to lift AirAsia Flight QZ8501 fuselage fails after rope snaps

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Posted at 1:15 PM, Jan 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-25 13:15:57-05

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A new attempt to lift the submerged fuselage of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 failed Sunday when a wire rope snapped after the wreckage reached the surface of the water, Indonesian officials said.

“The fuselage appeared at the surface, but the rope broke and it fell down again,” said Suryadi B. Supriyadi, director of operations and training for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.

An earlier effort to the raise the wreckage on Saturday was also foiled when sharp parts of the debris sliced through a strap connecting the fuselage to a giant balloon, the search agency said.

Officials are aiming to float the 13-meter-long (43-foot) piece of wreckage to the surface and then hoist it onto a waiting ship.

Flight QZ8501 went down in the Java Sea on December 28 as it flew from the Indonesian city of Surabaya toward Singapore with 162 people on board.

The Indonesian military, whose divers are working on the recovery effort, said Sunday that the team was evaluating the next step. Supriyadi said he expected them to try again.

The weather conditions, which had hampered the operation on Saturday, have improved, Supriyadi said.

70 bodies recovered so far

Divers successfully carried out a similar procedure with the tail section of the aircraft earlier this month.

Officials have said they believe many of the remains of people still missing from the disaster may be inside the fuselage.

As the fuselage neared the surface on Sunday, one body appeared in the water and was retrieved, the military said. It’s the 70th recovered so far during weeks of searching.

Efforts in previous days by divers to examine and get inside the fuselage as it lay on the seafloor were hindered by strong currents and bad visibility.

Investigators are analyzing the contents of Flight QZ8501’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder as they work to establish why the Airbus A320-200 went down in an area of heavy thunderstorms.

Experts have speculated from the outset that the storms might have played a role in the plane crash.

The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control after the pilot asked permission to turn and climb to higher altitude because of bad weather, officials have said.

Indonesia’s Transportation Minister said Tuesday that Flight QZ8501 climbed rapidly, and then stalled, shortly before it crashed.