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Four large objects spotted on ocean floor in AirAsia jet search

Sonar equipment used by search teams looking for the crash site of AirAsia Flight 8501 has detected four large objects on the ocean floor, Indonesian officials said Saturday.

The largest piece measured 59 by 18 feet and appeared to be from the jet’s body, chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency Henry Bambang Soelistyo told the Associated Press.

“We’ve found four big parts from the plane we’re looking for,” Soelistyo said.

Amid developments in the search for the wreckage, Indonesia’s transportation ministry said on Friday that AirAsia was not authorized to fly the route from Surabaya to Singapore on Sunday, the day the plane crashed.

The jet had 162 people on board when it disappeared from radar en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore early on Dec. 28.

Authorities have recovered 30 bodies from the Java Sea, AirAsia said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of our passengers and colleagues on board QZ 8501,” the airline said.

Some of the bodies found were still belted in their seats, the New York Times reported, citing an Indonesian official’s interview with a local television station.

While no official cause for the crash has been identified, a 14-page report released by Indonesia’s weather bureau said bad weather was likely a contributing factor.

“Based on the available data on the last received location of the aircraft, the weather was a factor in causing the accident,” the report said.

The pilot of the downed jetliner had requested “deviation due to en-route weather” before air traffic control lost contact with the plane, the airline said. Air traffic control denied the pilot’s request to climb to a higher altitude to avoid storm clouds because of heavy air traffic.

The plane’s black boxes, which hold the jet’s flight data and cockpit voice recorders, have yet to be found.