Tuesday, 30 December 2014

AirAsia QZ8501: Multiple bodies, wreckage recovered in search for missing plane

An Indonesian warship has recovered three bodies from the sea in the search for the AirAsia jet, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency says.

Earlier in the day, a navy spokesman told the media a warship had retrieved more than 40 bodies but later retracted the statement saying it was a miscommunication by staff.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyon said: "Today we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo".

An Indonesian air force plane spotted items resembling an emergency slide, plane door and other objects in the search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 earlier in the day.

AirAsia has released a statement confirming the debris found is from flight QZ8501.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said all available ships and helicopters would be deployed to the area where the debris was found.

A major search and rescue effort involving at least 30 ships and 15 aircraft from nine countries has been looking for the aircraft since it vanished early on Sunday morning while carrying 162 people from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. The findings mark a major breakthrough on the operation’s third day.

The flight’s carrier, AirAsia Indonesia, an affiliate of the Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia, confirmed in a statement posted on Facebook that the debris belonged to the missing flight.

“I am absolutely devastated,” AirAsia’s chief executive, Tony Fernandes, said, according to the statement. “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 on board QZ8501.”

The Indonesian television station TvOne reportedly broadcast images of a floating body, then apologised for showing the pictures after relatives of passengers in Surabaya saw the images on television and burst into tears.

AFP reported that at least two relatives collapsed and had to be carried out on stretchers. “My heart will be totally crushed if it’s true. I will lose a son,” 60-year-old Dwijanto told the news agency.

The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, arrived in Surabaya after nightfall to meet the families.

Indonesian officials said search and rescue teams spotted the shadow of a plane beneath the water. “God blessed us today,” Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters, according to AFP. “At 12:50 the air force Hercules found an object described as a shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a plane.”

As dusk fell, Indonesian navy spokesperson Manahan Simorangkir said searchers had begun to recover bodies.

Earlier, Tri Wibowo, the co-pilot of one of the planes involved in the search, said he saw “dozens of floating bodies as well as bags and aircraft debris”, according to the Jakarta Post. SB Supriyadi, the director of national search and rescue, told reporters the corpses were not wearing life jackets.

Indonesian air force official Agus Dwi Putranto told a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that search vessels had found objects located approximately 10km from the location where the plane was last captured on radar. “We spotted about 10 big objects and many more small white-coloured objects which we could not photograph,” he said.

Tuesday 30 December 2014





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