Dozens of bodies retrieved in AirAsia search

2014-12-30 12:20

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The hunt for a missing AirAsia passenger plane appeared over today as wreckage and dozens of bodies were spotted at sea off Indonesia, prompting raw scenes of emotion from sobbing relatives of the 162 people aboard.

The Airbus A320-200 disappeared en route from Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya to Singapore during a storm early Sunday.

All indications now are that it crashed in the Java Sea southwest of the island of Borneo, with debris and dozens of bodies retrieved so far.

An air force plane saw a “shadow” on the seabed believed to be of the missing Flight QZ8501, National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo told a news conference in Jakarta.

Relatives of the 162 missing hugged each other and burst into tears in Surabaya as they watched footage of one body floating in the sea on a television feed of Soelistyo’s press conference.

An Indonesian warship had recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea “and the number is growing”, navy spokesperson Manahan Simorangkir told AFP shortly afterwards.

AirAsia’s flamboyant chief executive, Tony Fernandes, expressed his grief over the first fatal incident to hit the region’s biggest budget airline.

“My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501,” Fernandes said on Twitter, adding that he was rushing to Surabaya.

Initial news of the debris dimmed the faint hopes of relatives of those missing.

“If that news is true, what can I do? I cannot bring him back to life,” said Dwijanto (60) whose son was on the plane along with five colleagues.

“My heart will be totally crushed if it’s true. I will lose a son,” he said.

Search chief Soelistyo said all efforts were now being concentrated on the location where the “shadow” and debris had been found, around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on Borneo island.

The town has the nearest airstrip and is not far from the plane’s last known position.

President Joko Widodo was expected in Pangkalan Bun shortly and then head to Surabaya to meet the relatives, officials said.

Indonesian officials had already been preparing relatives for the worst, with Soelistyo saying yesterday it was likely the plane was at “the bottom of the sea”, based on its estimated position.

The aircraft lost contact early on Sunday about 40 minutes after takeoff, after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.

In his last communication, the pilot said he wanted to avoid a menacing storm system, before all contact was lost.

Before take-off the pilot had asked for permission to fly at a higher level to avoid the storm but his request was not approved due to heavy traffic on the popular route, according to AirNav, Indonesia’s flight navigation service.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.