Objects and a pool of oil spotted by search crews are being tested to see if they are connected to a missing AirAsia jetliner, the head of Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency said.
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Bambang Soelistyo, speaking at a news conference after a second day of searching for the plane was suspended, said he couldn't confirm that the objects or oil were from the plane. Test results will be shared Tuesday, he said.
Other objects reportedly spotted by an Australian search team were not connected to the plane, he said.
The developments came as authorities expanded the search area for the missing jet, with 13 ships and 15 planes and helicopters operating in the search area. Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, Malaysia, Singapore, the Indonesian Navy and the Australian Defence Force were contributing to the search efforts.
The situation remains a search and rescue operation, Indonesia vice president Jusuf Kalla said at a news conference.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes also spoke at the news conference, reflecting on speculation surrounding the plane's disappearance.
"We really can't speculate," Fernandes said. "We don't really want to speculate until we find the aircraft, we know what went wrong. Then, we'll look into it and see what we need to improve, if we need to improve. But it's speculation, at the moment, so it's premature to talk, at the moment."
Soelistyo, speaking at an earlier press conference Monday, said, "We currently suspect that plane is located on the ocean floor." If the plane is found on the ocean floor, there would be a challenge in getting the plane to the surface because Indonesia doesn't have the "submersible" equipment, Soelistyo said.
The plane's Emergency Locator Transmitter should function automatically and send warning signals, but no signal has been detected by control centers in Indonesia or in neighboring countries, Soelistyo said.
Soelistyo said Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency is spearheading the search effort.
The AirAsia jet lost contact with air traffic control over the Java Sea during a flight to Singapore Sunday morning, shortly after the pilots requested a change of flight plan because of weather.
Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control in Jakarta, Indonesia, at 6:17 a.m. Sunday local time near Belitung Island, Indonesia, after the flight left Surabaya, Indonesia, Indonesian Air Transport Director Djoko Murjatmodjo said during a news conference Sunday.
The flight had at least 162 people on board.
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