Bodies, debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea

Dec 30, 2014, 7:32 AM EST
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 on December 30, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Indonesian rescuers searching for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people pulled bodies and wreckage from the sea off the coast of Borneo on Tuesday, prompting relatives of those on board watching TV footage to break down in tears. Reuters reports:

Indonesia AirAsia's Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control early on Sunday during bad weather on a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. The navy said 40 bodies had been recovered.

The plane has yet to be found. The airline said in a statement that it was inviting family members to Surabaya, "where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met".

Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing already gathered at a crisis center in Surabaya wept with heads in their hands. Several people collapsed in grief and were helped away.

"You have to be strong," the mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, said as she comforted relatives. "They are not ours, they belong to God."

A navy spokesman said a plane door, oxygen tanks and one body had been recovered and taken away by helicopter for tests. "The challenge is waves up to three meters high,"

Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters, adding that the search operation would go on all night. He declined to answer questions on whether any survivors had been found.

About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted to the families: "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences." The BBC reports:

All resources were now being sent to the area where the debris was found, and all objects or bodies found would be taken to Pangkalan Bun, he said, referring to a nearby town in Central Kalimantan province.

Search operation head Bambang Soelistyo added that ships with more sophisticated technology were being deployed to check whether larger parts of the plane were submerged beneath the debris.

Indonesian civil aviation chief Djoko Murjatmodjo, quoted by AFP news agency, said "significant things" such as a passenger door and cargo door had been found.

He added that the objects had been found 160km (100 miles) south-west of Pangkalan Bun.

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