Debris From AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Found, Bodies Recovered
Wreckage from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was discovered in the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Tuesday, and authorities say it’s unlikely any of the 162 people on board survived.
Debris Confirmed As Flight QZ8501
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control early on Dec. 28, somewhere over the Java Sea, sparking an international search effort. At the end of Monday’s search, officials revealed that a piece of debris possibly from the missing flight was found, but that they were awaiting confirmation. On Tuesday, officials confirmed the debris was, indeed, from Flight QZ8501.
“AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of the 28th,” AirAsia announced.
Search teams also reportedly recovered three bodies believed to be passengers on the flight. “Today we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo,” confirmed BASARNAS head Bambang Soelistyo.
Reports of how many bodies have been recovered from the debris site vary from three confirmed to 40, and the exact number is unclear. However, multiple reports suggest that footage of the debris and floating, dead bodies was shown on Indonesian television.
Families of the passengers on Flight QZ8501 have gathered in a makeshift crisis center at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, Indonesia, where they were informed that bodies had been found. Hospitals in the surrounding Surabaya area are preparing to receive bodies for identification.
“To the relatives, I feel your loss, and all of us pray that all of the families are given the strength and fortitude during this incident,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo before addressing the families directly.
Search & Rescue Mission Continues
There are no reports of survivors, but officials and family members have not given up hope. Widodo made clear in his address on Tuesday that the mission is still considered a “massive search and rescue operation” and would resume Wednesday.
AirAsia released a statement announcing that they would also be providing “counselors, religious and spiritual personnel” for the families in Surabaya. AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes confirmed that, as the search mission continues, the airline will focus their efforts on the grieving families.
“I am absolutely devastated. 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 onboard QZ8501,” Fernandes said.
— AirAsia (@AirAsia) December 30, 2014
The cause of the plane crash remains unknown.