At least 40 bodies have been spotted and six recovered from missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 amid reports that the plane door and emergency slide belonging to the passenger jet have been found and a “shadow” spotted on the seabed.
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The latest developments are:
- 10 pieces of debris spotted in the Java Sea confirmed as from AirAsia Flight QZ8501
- Bodies were found approximately 6 miles from the last point of contact with air traffic control
- AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes has said his “heart is filled with sadness for all the families”
- The Airbus A320-200 vanished on Sunday morning with 162 passengers on board
Around 10 objects have been found in the Java Sea, roughly six miles from where the plane lost contact with air traffic control, including what Indonesian air force officials claim are items resembling a plane door and emergency slide.
Rescue efforts are being hampered by 20 knot winds and strong waves, however, additional ships are en route to discovery site, according to Indonesia’s defence minister Ng Eng Hen.
First Lieutenant Tri Wibowo, who was on board a Hercules during the first search operation, described finding the debris: “We thought that the passengers were still alive and waved at us for help. But when we approached closer [we saw] they were already dead.”
“As we approached, the body seemed bloated,” he told national Indonesian newspaper Kompas.
National Search and Rescue Director SB Supriyadi later told reporters in Pangkalan Bun that bodies had been brought onto an Indonesian ship. The bodies, found off the coast of Borneo about 105 miles south of the town, were not reportedly wearing life jackets.
Indonesian navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir told AFP: “Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing”.
The bodies are due to be identified at Bhayangkara Hospital, Surabaya, east Java, although the condition of the bodies remains unclear that may affect identification.
An Indonesian Navy helicopter assists in the search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 near Batam, south of Singapore
The CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes tweeted: “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences,” later tweeting that he was “rushing” to Surabaya.
Indonesia’s vice-president is due to give a press conference in Jakarta shortly, as the president travels to Surabaya to meet families and view the crash site.
Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo told reporters “more than one” body had been recovered.
During the press conference, held at around 2pm local time, he said that search teams had seen a shadow underneath the water, allegedly in the shape of a plane.
Yusef Latif, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Search and Rescue team, said an Indonesian military aircraft saw white, red and black objects, including what appears to be a life jacket. AirAsia’s livery is red and white.
Relatives of the families were visibly upset when local TV channels aired footage of the discovery, some of which appeared to show not only the debris but also a floating body.
In pictures: Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501
- The Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 individuals including one Briton and his young daughter, disappeared on Sunday while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.
The Head of the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), FHB Bambang Soelistyo (C, seated) speaks to journalists during a news conference about the missing AirAasia plane, in Jakarta, Indonesia
An international rescue team has been launched with at least 30 ships, 15 aircrafts and seven helicopters scouring the sea around where the plane was last heard from.
The United States announced it was sending the USS Sampson destroyer, joining teams from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand also involved in the search, with local fishermen helping Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Soelistyo told reporters.
Another shot of the debris
This is the second sighting of debris after a disappointment yesterday when two darken patches on the sea where initially believed to be oil slicks. They later emerged as clutches of coral underwater.
The search has expanded to include not only the sea but nearby land, with two Indonesian helicopters scouring Pangkalan Bun island looking for any sign of wreckage earlier this morning.
Family members of passengers onboard the missing Malaysian air carrier AirAsia flight QZ8501 react after watching news reports showing an unidentified body floating in the Java sea, inside the crisis-centre set up at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya
Additional helicopters were used to examine the land on the smaller islands of Bangka and Belitung to the east.
Nearly all the passengers and crew are Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays.
The crash marks a tragic end to aviation in Southeast Asia in 2014. Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of MH370, which disappeared with all 239 passengers on board. The shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine killed all 298 passengers and crew and provoked international outrage amid an outpouring of grief.