AirAsia QZ8501 crash: Plane believed to have exploded as it hit the sea, as black boxes discovered

Both black boxes have now been located but one remains lodged under wreckage 100 feet deep underwater

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The Independent Online

The AirAsia plane that disappeared more than two weeks ago over the Java sea is believed to have exploded as it hit the water, according to initial analysis of the wreckage, while a team of divers have now located both of the plane’s black boxes.

Indonesian navy divers managed to retrieve one of the boxes and locate the other underwater on Monday, marking a key development for investigators as they attempt to unravel what exactly caused the aircraft to plummet into the sea halfway through its journey.

Just hours after divers pulled the flight data recorder from beneath a piece of the aircraft’s wing about 100 feet (30 metres) underwater and brought it to the surface, the team had discovered the cockpit voice recorder, Suryadi Bambang Supriyadi, operation coordinator for Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency said.

Indonesian Air Force military police officers carry the flight data recorder in a savety case after its recovery

The voice recorder is still lodged beneath heavy wreckage however, which divers have been struggling to free from a depth of 105 feet (32 metres).

It could be weeks before investigators manage to download the crucial data from the boxes, but initial analysis of the wreckage suggests the aircraft exploded as it made impact with the sea.

Supriyadi told reporters in Pangkalan Bun town on Borneo Island that the plane “exploded because of the pressure”.

“The cabin was pressurised and before the pressure of the cabin could be adjusted, it went down – boom. That explosion was heard in the area,” he said from the search headquarters.

The black boxes are vital to understanding what caused the AirAsia flight to lose contact with air traffic control on 27 December, as they include essential information such as the plane’s vertical and horizontal speeds, engine temperature, and the final conversations between the captain and the pilot.

All 162 people on board were killed, but only 48 bodies have been recovered so far.

Three Indonesian ships originally picked up intense pings from the boxes on Sunday, as search teams also discovered the fuselage, or main body, of the plane, but strong currents and poor visibility hindered search efforts until Monday.

Once divers manage to dislodge the voice recorder, both black boxes will be taken to Jakarta for analysis, where it could take up to two weeks to download their information, according to Nurcahyo Utomo, an investigator at the National Committee for Safety Transportation.

Additional reporting by agencies