Four “large objects” that are believed to be part of the wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 have been detected on the ocean floor, officials said yesterday. It has also emerged that the plane did not have authority to fly the route from Indonesia to Singapore that it was travelling when it crashed last weekend.

AirAsia was warned that its licence to fly in Indonesia could be suspended because of the incident, with officials saying they will look into all of the company’s flight schedules.

There were 162 people on board the plane – including 155 Indonesians and one Briton – when it crashed on a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, to Singapore. The extensive search operation launched after the disaster appeared to be closing in on the remains of the main fuselage and the all-important flight data and cockpit recorders yesterday, after the discovery of what looked to be debris from the plane on the sea bed.

Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the search and rescue agency, said his operation had found four “large objects” at a depth of about 30 metres, using sonar.

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