The pilot who discovered the debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has said he saw that three of the bodies recovered were holding hands.
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Lieutenant Airman Tri Wobowo, who co-piloted the C130 Hercules aircraft that first saw the items of the aircraft off the coast of Borneo earlier today, described the scene that greeted rescuers in the water.
A search team member descends as a body floats in the sea off the coast of Kalimantan, Indonesia, in this still image from video on December 30, 2014. (Via Reuters)
A crew member of Indonesian navy’s CN-235 airplane prays prior to the start of a search operation for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 at the airport in Pangkal Pinang, Bangka Island, Indonesia, on December 30, 2014. (AP photo)
“There are seven to eight people. Three [of them] again hold hands,” he told Indonesian national newspaper Kompas.
As well as the bodies, the pilot reported seeing luggage, buoys and pieces of the aircraft itself – painted the distinctive red, black and white of AirAsia.
Members of the Indonesian air force show items retrieved from the Java Sea during search and rescue operations for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, on December 30, 2014. (AFP photo)
Flight QZ8501 disappeared on Sunday en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia. The passenger plane was carrying 162 people at the time of its disappearance, including one Briton.
Indonesian authorities and AirAsia have both confirmed that the wreckage is Flight QZ8501.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a statement: “I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501.”
The search is expected to continue through the night President Joko Widodo told a press conference, adding that finding passengers and crew members was the first priority.