Jakarta/Singapore | Bad weather today hampered the recovery of scores of bodies and the wreckage of the AirAsia plane that drifted away from the crash site due to strong tides in the Java Sea off Indonesia after sonar images identified what appeared to be large parts of the jet. The massive hunt for the 162 people on board the Singapore-bound AirAsia Flight QZ8501 that went missing on Sunday after taking off from Surabaya, Indonesia, was severely limited due to heavy rain, wind and thick clouds.
Seven bodies, including that of a woman flight attendant still wearing her AirAsia uniform, have been recovered, said Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo. Divers were to be deployed to search for bodies and for the plane’s black box flight recorders but officials said heavy rain, strong winds and waves of up to 3 metres had forced them to suspend the operation.
Sonar images identified what is believed to be large parts of the plane, but strong tides were moving the wreckage. It seems all the wreckage found has drifted more than 50 kilometers from yesterday’s location, said Vice Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi, search and rescue coordinator in Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island. We are expecting those bodies will end up on beaches. The first two bodies from the AirAsia plane crash arrived back in Surabaya, where relatives of those on board the ill-fated Airbus A320-200 are waiting.
Soldiers acting as pall bearers carried coffins containing the two bodies. The next of kin have been asked for DNA samples to help identify the victims. Nearly three days after the Singapore-bound plane went off the radar, its debris was found yesterday in the Karimata Strait near Pangkalanbun, Central Kalimantan. Many bodies were seen floating in the sea by the rescuers and efforts were being made to retrieve them, officials said. We are in a wait and see. Weather is bad currently.
High tides and heavy rains. Every element is now in their position ready to make a move when weather improves, Soelistyo said. As soon as the weather is clear, the bodies will be brought to Pangkalan Bun, he said. Relatives of the 162 people on board the ill-fated plane hugged each other and burst into tears yesterday as they watched television footage of bodies floating in the sea.
The plane was carrying 155 passengers — one British, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, three South Koreans, 149 Indonesians — and seven crew members — six Indonesians and a French co-pilot. Seventeen of the passengers were children. There were no Indian nationals on board. The mystery still remains over why the plane lost contact with air traffic control and what happened afterwards.
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