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AirAsia flight QZ8501: 40 bodies from missing plane found and reports 'emergency slide and plane door' spotted

By Rose Troup Buchanan

At least 40 bodies have been spotted and six recovered from missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 amid reports that the plane door and emergency slide belonging to the passenger jet have been found and a “shadow” spotted on the seabed.

The latest developments are:

  • 10 pieces of debris spotted in the Java Sea
  • Bodies were found approximately 6 miles from the last point of contact with air traffic control
  • AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes has said his "heart is filled with sadness for all the families"
  • The Airbus A320-200 vanished on Sunday morning with 162 passengers on board

Around 10 objects have been found in the Java Sea, roughly six miles from where the plane lost contact with air traffic control, including what Indonesian air force officials claim are items resembling a plane door and emergency slide.

First Lieutenant Tri Wibowo, who was on board a Hercules during the search operation, described finding the debris: "We thought that the passengers were still alive and waved at us for help. But when we approached closer [we saw] they were already dead."

"As we approached, the body seemed bloated," he told national Indonesian newspaper Kompas.

National Search and Rescue Director SB Supriyadi later told reporters in Pangkalan Bun that bodies had been brought onto an Indonesian ship. The bodies were not reportedly wearing life jackets.

Indonesian navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir told AFP: "Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing".

The CEO of AirAsia Tony Fernandes tweeted: "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences," later tweeting that he was "rushing" to Surabaya.

Indonesia's vice-president is due to give a press conference in Jakarta soon.

Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo told reporters "more than one" body had been recovered.

During the press conference, held at around 2pm local time, he said that search teams had seen a shadow underneath the water, allegedly in the shape of a plane.

Relatives of the families  were visibly upset when local TV channels aired footage of the discovery, some of which appeared to show not only the debris but also a floating body.

BBC news teams based in Surabaya allegedly heard screaming and crying from inside the relatives crisis centre.

Yusef Latif, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Search and Rescue team, said an Indonesian military aircraft saw white, red and black objects, including what appears to be a life jacket, off the coast, about 105 miles south of Pangkalan Bun. AirAsia’s livery is red and white.

Asian TV News station Channel NewsAsia has apologised after they "inadvertently" aired images of the bodies taken from local channels.

The Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 individuals including one Briton and his young daughter, disappeared on Sunday while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

An international rescue team has been launched with at least 30 ships, 15 aircrafts and seven helicopters scouring the sea around where the plane was last heard from.

The United States announced it was sending the USS Sampson destroyer, joining teams from China, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand also involved in the search, with local fishermen helping Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency chief Soelistyo told reporters.

This is the second sighting of debris after a disappointment yesterday when two darken patches on the sea where initially believed to be oil slicks. They later emerged as clutches of coral underwater.

The search has expanded to include not only the sea but nearby land, with two Indonesian helicopters scouring Pangkalan Bun island looking for any sign of wreckage earlier this morning.

Additional helicopters were used to examine the land on the smaller islands of Bangka and Belitung to the east.

Nearly all the passengers and crew are Indonesians, who are frequent visitors to Singapore, particularly on holidays.

The crash marks a tragic end to aviation in Southeast Asia in 2014. Mystery still surrounds the disappearance of MH370, which disappeared with all 239 passengers on board. The shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine killed all 298 passengers and crew and provoked international outrage amid an outpouring of grief.

Source: Independent

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