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Indonesian military calls off AirAsia wreckage recovery

Part of the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 floats on the surface after being lifted as Indonesian navy divers conduct search operations for the black box flight recorders and passengers and crew of the aircraft, in the Java Sea

Pangkalan Bun (Indonesia): The Indonesian military today called off efforts to recover the wreckage of an AirAsia plane that crashed into the Java Sea last month after failing for several days to lift the fuselage.

“All of our forces are being pulled out,” said Rear Admiral Widodo, a navy official overseeing the search and rescue operation. “We apologise to the families of the victims.”

Flight QZ8501 went down on December 28 in stormy weather, during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

There were 162 people on board the plane, and only 70 bodies have been recovered. Widodo said no more victims had been found by divers involved in the search for the past two days.

Officials had been hoping to find most of the victims inside the main body of the plane.

Since Saturday, salvage teams have been using giant inflatable bags to try to raise the fuselage of the Airbus A320-200, which is lying in the sea at a depth of around 30 metres.

At one point, they managed to lift the main body to the surface for two minutes before a sling holding it snapped.

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