Indonesian search and rescue teams begin recovering bodies as officials say scattered debris is from missing flight QZ8501
Teams searching for AirAsia flight QZ8501 have begun recovering dozens of bodies from the Java Sea, as Indonesian officials confirmed that scattered debris found nearby came from the plane.
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.