Jakarta/Singapore: Extreme bad weather was the "triggering factor" behind the AirAsia plane crash with icing likely causing engine damage, Indonesia's meteorological agency has said in the first official word on the possible reasons for the horrific incident.
"Based on the available data received on the location of the aircraft's last contact, the weather was the triggering factor behind the accident," an initial report on the website of Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said.
"The most probable weather phenomenon was icing which can cause engine damage due to a cooling process. This is just one of the possibilities that occurred based on the analysis of existing meteorological data," the report said.
Extreme bad weather triggered last Sunday's crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, Indonesia's weather officials said.
The 14-page "meteorological analysis" is the first official word from Jakarta on the reasons for the crash and comes close to confirming widespread speculation on the reasons for the disaster, the Straits Times reported.
BMKG's report, authored by Professor Edvin Aldrian, head of its research and development unit, said its preliminary analysis of weather data suggested the AirAsia Airbus A320-200 had flown into storm clouds.
It also noted that weather charts issued before the flight showed the plane's scheduled route at cruising level would come across "worrying" conditions, with warnings of a gale.
Satellite images also suggested peak temperatures of minus 80 to minus 85 deg Celsius, which meant there were grains of ice in the dense clouds, the report said.
The AirAsia plane with 162 people on board en route from Indonesia's Surabaya city to Singapore mysteriously crashed last Sunday in the Java Sea. Searchers are retrieving the bodies of the victims and the wreckage of the plane.
Finding the black box of the plane is crucial for determining with certainty the definite reasons for the crash.
Officials have said the plane was travelling at 32,000 feet when the pilot in his last communication made a request to climb to 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather.
The plane was carrying 155 passengers -- one British, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, three South Koreans, 149 Indonesians -- and seven crew members -- six Indonesians and a French co-pilot.
Seventeen of the passengers were children. There were no Indian nationals on board.
At least four more bodies were recovered today from the Jawa Sea, taking the total number of corpses retrieved so far to 34.