What happened to the AirAsia flight QZ8501? Indonesian search mission comes closer to answer with discovery of plane tail in Java Sea

Sarah Spickernell
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It is the first part of the plane to be discovered since the crash (Source: Getty)
The tail of the AirAsia plane that went missing on 28 December has been found in the Java Sea.
Flight QZ8501 was making its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore when a storm seemingly caused it to come down.
Before take-off, the pilot of the Airbus A30-200 had asked to fly at a higher altitude to avoid the storm, but permission was denied because it was such a busy route.
Although the cause has been identified as weather-related, exact details of what happened during the crash remain unknown.
This latest discovery is significant because the tail contains the black boxes, which hold all the voice and flight data records. Investigators will be able to listen to what was said during the flight and track the plane's movements.
"We have found the tail that has been our main target today," search and rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo told reporters in the capital, Jakarta.
"I can ensure that this is part of the tail with the AirAsia mark on it."
The tail was found when a team of divers and unmanned underwater vehicles investigated the secondary search area. It is the first major piece of wreckage identified from the crash.
Since it was not found in the primary area, researchers believe strong currents have moved the plane debris from its original crash site.
There were 162 passengers aboard the flight when it went missing, but only 40 bodies have been found so far. The Indonesian authorities believe many of the passengers are still strapped in their seatbelts inside the main body of the plane.
The search team took the following photographs of the debris:

The wreckage was found in the secondary search area (Source: Basarnas/AFP/Getty)

The team identified the airline's logo (Source: Basarnas/AFP/Getty)

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