The search for remaining bodies from AirAsia plane crash in the Java Sea has been officially ended on March 17, head of Indonesia’s rescue agency Bambang Soelistyo has confirmed.
AirAsia lost contact with flight QZ8501 on December 28 as it was flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board.
The search effort has recovered 106 bodies, with 56 unaccounted for.
The families of those missing are disappointed but understand that the search cannot go on indefinitely.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters last week that he was satisfied with the search operation.
“We have been successful… To get more than 50% is considered a huge success,” he said.
Tony Fernandes added that the search could not “go on indefinitely”.
The fuselage of the crashed plane was located in the Java Sea in mid January and the final part of it that was recoverable was removed at the end of February. Divers established that those elements of fuselage that had to be left in the sea did not contain any bodies.
The bodies that were recovered were mostly found in and around the wreckage, with a few discovered some 625 miles away, off the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Three were found as recently as March 14.
The plane’s two “black box” flight recorders were also found. They revealed several alarms were “screaming”, drowning out the sound of the pilots’ voices.
Indonesia’s transport minister has said that radar data showed the plane climbing at an abnormally high rate. This could have caused it to stall, experts say.
The plane is thought to have been attempting to fly above a storm. The pilot’s last contact was a request to divert around bad weather.
The less experienced co-pilot was at the controls at the time, investigators have said.
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Malaysia’s Federal Court has rejected a challenge to the ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God, in a highly divisive legal case in the Muslim-majority nation.
The case was brought by the Catholic Church, which sought to overturn a ban first put in place in 2007.
But the country’s highest court said an earlier ruling backing the ban was correct.
The case began over the use of “Allah” to refer to the Christian God in the Catholic Church’s Malay-language paper, The Herald.
Malaysia’s Federal Court has rejected a challenge to the ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God
People of all faiths use the word Allah in Malay to refer to their deities.
Christians argue they have used the word, which entered Malay from Arabic, to refer to their God for centuries and that the ruling violates their rights.
Malaysian authorities say its use by Christians could confuse Muslims and lead some to convert to Christianity.
Malay Muslims make up almost two-thirds of the country’s population, but there are large Hindu and Christian communities.
The long-running case has proved very controversial, sparking impassioned debate and leading to occasional attacks on mosques and churches.
The Herald appealed against the initial ban and in 2009 a court ruled in its favor, but that judgement that was later overturned by the Court of Appeal.
This ruling was handed down by a seven-member panel, which voted by 4-3 to dismiss the challenge.
Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said he was “greatly disappointed” by the judgement which “didn’t touch on the fundamental rights of minorities”.
Muslim activists outside the court welcomed the decision, however.
S Selvarajah, one of the lawyers for the Church, said the ruling marked the end of legal proceedings.
“It’s a blanket ban. Non-Muslims cannot use the word,” he told AFP news agency.
However, reports in Malaysian newspapers suggested the Church could call for a review of the decision.
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