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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

‘Shadow’ on seabed believed to be AirAsia jet, 6 bodies found

Distraught relatives of passengers on board flight QZ8501 being comforted by an official. – AFP pic, December 30, 2014.Distraught relatives of passengers on board flight QZ8501 being comforted by an official. – AFP pic, December 30, 2014.
The debris spotted today during an aerial sea search for AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been confirmed as that of the missing plane, AFP reported Indonesia's director-general of civil aviation as saying.
"For the time being, it can be confirmed that it's the AirAsia plane and the transport minister will depart soon to Pangkalan Bun," director-general Djoko Murjatmodjo said.
"Based on the observation by search and rescue personnel, significant things have been found such as a passenger door and cargo door. It's in the sea, 160km southwest of Pangkalan Bun," he said, referring to the town in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.
"At 13:25... we spotted a floating object believed to be one of the passengers' bodies," Bambang Soelistyo said at a press conference.
Relatives of the 162 people missing on the plane hugged each other and burst into tears in Surabaya, where the plane departed from, as they watched footage showing a body floating in the sea on a television feed of Soelistyo's press conference in Jakarta.
They hugged one another and continued crying until an AirAsia officer shouted, "This is crazy", an AFP journalist at the scene said.
The situation at the centre was tense and emotional, with some hysterical and crying non-stop.
One man fainted and had to be taken out on a stretcher.
Al Jazeera, meanwhile, tweeted that six bodies have been found in the Java Sea near where plane debris was discovered.
Bambang said a search plane had spotted a "shadow" on the seabed, believed to be the missing AirAsia jet.
"God blessed us today," Bambang said at the press conference.
"At 12:50 the air force Hercules found an object described as a shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a plane," he said.
A search and rescue worker prepares to load body bags onto a flight to Kalimantan in Pangkal Pinang, Bangka. – Reuters pic, December 30, 2014.A search and rescue worker prepares to load body bags onto a flight to Kalimantan in Pangkal Pinang, Bangka. – Reuters pic, December 30, 2014.Soelistyo said the search was 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.
"All elements in the areas and search and rescue personnel will be moved to the location," he said.
"Their job is to find and evacuate all objects or passengers' bodies," he said.
"I will make sure that all of them will be brought to Pangkalan Bun, the closest airstrip from the object's location," he said.
At 4.11pm, AsiaAsia boss Tan Sri Tony Fernandes tweeted: "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am."
He then said he was rushing to Surabaya.
"Whatever we can do at Airasia we will be doing," he tweeted, as many other Twitter users conveyed their sympathies and told him to be strong.
Ranul Sereviratne tweeted: "@tonyfernandes The whole world will be with you and @AirAsia."
Indonesian aerial search teams earlier today spotted items resembling an emergency slide and plane door in the sea as they hunted for traces of the AirAsia plane which disappeared on Sunday in a storm over the Java Sea.
Following the confirmation by officials, CNN posted updates on its website, saying that family members were being called to meet officials at the search and rescue headquarters in Surabaya.
CNN also reported officials saying that the area where the wreckage is found is only 40 metres deep.
Indonesian TV One showed footage of distraught family members entering the building huddled against throngs of cameras surrounding the briefing area.
The Jakarta Post also quoted Djoko as saying that: "the recovery process will now be centred on the debris location in coordination with Basarnas".
Indonesian news portal Detik.com quoted Bambang as saying that the entire search and rescue team, and others involved in the operation, would move to the location of the debris in the Java Sea east of Kalimantan near the Karimata Strait.
The flight was carrying 155 passengers on board, including 16 children and one infant, and seven crew members.
The passengers comprise 149 Indonesians, three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian and one Briton.
The crew comprises six Indonesians and a French national, who is the First Officer.
Plane manufacturer Airbus Industrie said the Airbus A320-200 was delivered to AirAsia in October 2008.
The aircraft is powered by CFM 56-5B engines and has accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights.
The A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration.
- TMI

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