Home » » First AirAsia Flight 8501 bodies arrive at airport

First AirAsia Flight 8501 bodies arrive at airport

SURABAYA, Indonesia — The first two bodies from AirAsia Flight 8501 arrived Wednesday at a military airstrip at Surabaya's airport, where many of the passengers' relatives are gathered.

It came as bad weather hindered efforts to recover the bodies of passengers and crew from the Java Sea and sent wreckage drifting far from the crash site.

Some 162 people were aboard the Airbus A320, which vanished on Sunday morning while flying from Surabaya to Singapore. The search for bodies was severely limited due to heavy rain, wind and thick clouds Wednesday.

Hernanto, the head of Surabaya search and rescue, said seven bodies had been recovered so far — three on Tuesday and the rest on Wednesday. Indonesia's Search and Rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said they included a woman wearing a flight attendant's uniform. Local media identified her as 20-year-old trainee Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, The Washington Post reported.

Tatang Zaenudin, an official with the search and rescue agency, told Reuters that one of the bodies recovered Wednesday was wearing a life jacket.

Royal Malaysian Navy search and rescue crews retrieve

Helicopters were largely grounded due to the weather Wednesday, but ships were still scouring the area.

Sonar images identified what appeared to be large parts of the plane, but strong currents were moving the wreckage. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the jetliner to crash in shallow Indonesian waters.

After more than two days of searching, the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency confirmed Tuesday that debris from the aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait, off the coast of Borneo.

Parts of the jet's interior including an oxygen tank were brought to the nearest town, Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island. Also found was a bright blue plastic suitcase, completely unscratched. The jet's "black boxes" — cockpit voice and flight data recorders that are key to understanding what caused the crash — were not yet recovered.

Simple wooden boxes containing bodies, with signs numbered 001 and 002, were unloaded in Pangkalan Bun, with flowers placed on top. They were flown to Surabaya later.

Rescue workers descended from a hovering helicopter to retrieve bodies from the water, but 6-foot waves and strong winds hindered their efforts, National Search and Rescue Director SB Supriyadi said.

"It seems all the wreckage found has drifted more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) from yesterday's location," said Vice Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi, search and rescue coordinator in Pangkalan Bun. "We are expecting those bodies will end up on beaches."

Recovering bodies was expected to remain difficult for the near future. Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency predicted that the conditions would worsen, with more intense rains through Friday.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said: "The weather is not looking good for the next two to three days and it's slowing us down."

Indonesian soldiers carry the coffin of an AirAsia

As search operations continued Wednesday, symbols of the tragedy began to accumulate around Juanda airport in Surabaya. Large flower wreaths were placed near the crisis center at the airport, while a Catholic priest and Protestant clergy were on hand to support the relatives of the passengers, a number of whom are Christians.

One Surabaya church — Manwar Sharon Church — lost 41 members in the crash. On Wednesday, around 100 relatives gathered for a prayer service in an hall at the airport, where the Rev. Philip Mantofa urged the crowd to hold onto their faith despite their pain.

"Some things do not make sense to us, but God is bigger than all this," he said. "Our God is not evil … help us God to move forward even though we are surrounded by darkness."

At nearby Graha Serba Guna, a multipurpose complex used by the navy, roughly 40 ambulances were assembled to transport the first recovered bodies. Arif Kurniwan, a police officer waiting with the ambulances, said the bodies would be taken to Bhayangkara Hospital, around 10 miles from the airport.

For grieving relatives, the wait continued, both for bodies to be recovered and identified and for answers as to what caused the crash.

William Kai, whose brother-in-law David Gunawan and his wife and two children, ages 7 and 10, were on the flight, said his family was leaning on each other and their faith in God for strength.

"We are devastated for sure," he said. "We're humans. We're never ready for this kind of stuff. We just have to stay strong for each other."

He said they were still holding on to a sliver of hope for survivors. "Thinking logically, the chances are very, very low," he said. "Right now, we live by faith, not by sight. We believe in God."

Airport management company Angkasa Pura I officially handed over responsibility for the crisis center to AirAsia on Wednesday evening. The center will be relocated Thursday morning to Bhayangkara Hospital.

The Airbus A320, which took off from Surabaya for Singapore, lost contact with air traffic control Sunday morning. Pilots had asked permission to climb to avoid storm clouds, but six other aircraft were in the vicinity, so controllers denied the request. Minutes later, the jet vanished from radar screens without declaring an emergency.

source : usatoday.com
Share this article :

Featured Video

Category 3

Support : Creating Website | Johny Template | Mas Template
Copyright © 2011. HOT ISSUES - All Rights Reserved
Template Modify by Creating Website
Proudly powered by Blogger