Posted by News Express | 30 December 2014 | 4,574 times
A number of bodies have been found and recovered in the sea near where the missing AirAsia flight was last reported, Indonesian officials have said.
MetroTV reported search and rescue chiefs as saying up to six bodies had been pulled from the Karimata Strait between Sumatra and Borneo and ten pieces of Flight QZ8501, including an emergency door, had been recovered.
The station showed images of one bloated corpse and reported bodies had been pulled aboard an Indonesian navy vessel. None of the bodies had life jackets on.
Relatives at a crisis center at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second city and the flight’s departure point, wept and held their heads in their hands as they heard the news.
The National Search and Rescue Agency said it was “95 percent sure” the debris was from the missing Airbus 320-200, lost on Sunday morning (Saturday night Nigerian time) as it travelled from Surabaya to Singapore. The agency also told MetroTV it had sent a team of divers to assist in recovering the bodies of the 162 passengers and crew who were aboard.
Bambang Soelistyo, the agency’s head, said the rescue team had found pieces of the plane’s fuselage.
“I, as the search and rescue coordinator, am 95 percent sure that the fragments and objects come from the plane,” Soelistyo told a press conference in Jakarta.
The wreckage was initially found by a Hercules C-130 search plane at 11.00 local time (05.00 GMT).
First Lieutenant Tri Wibowo, who was aboard the Hercules, told the Kompas.com news website that he had spotted a body, luggage and a life vest among the debris.
He said: “As we approached, the body seemed bloated.”
The discovery – 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Pangkalan Bun town in Central Kalimantan province – came on the third day of the search as officials widened the operation to cover 97,000 square miles (156,000 square km).
The last contact with the flight was at 06.12 Sunday local time (23.12 Saturday GMT) when the pilot requested permission to veer left and climb to 38,000 feet (11,600 metres) to avoid heavy storm clouds.
The pilot was granted permission to change course but not to climb immediately due to another flight on the same path. No distress signal was received before the plane disappeared from radar.
Indonesia has deployed 37 ships and aircraft in the hunt for the airliner, Soelistyo said, while other countries had provided around a dozen naval vessels and aircraft.
The majority of those aboard were Indonesians although the co-pilot was French and the passengers included three South Koreans, a Malaysian and a British national reportedly travelling with his Singaporean daughter.
The loss of AirAsia is the third major air disaster to hit Southeast Asia this year. In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing en route to Beijing with 239 aboard and four months later Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region near the border with Russia, killing all 298 aboard.
AirAsia had a positive safety record and had not reported any previous disasters.
•Adapted from an Anadolu Agency report.
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