Pictures paint a grim sight of bodies floating in the seas near Borneo.
This was the horrible reality that struck the loved ones of the missing passengers of AirAsia flight QR8051. This came shortly after footage of debris floating in the sea shown, with some looking like lifejackets, while others were bearing white and red colours that suggests it was part of the AirAsia plane.
According to ITV, an Indonesian navy official has confirmed that the debris found is indeed the missing AirAsia craft.
“For the time being it can be confirmed that it’s the AirAsia plane and the transport minister will depart soon to Pangkalan Bun,” Djoko Murjatmodjo, the Indonesian acting director of civil aviation, told AFP hours ago, when bodies were found floating on the ocean surface.
More than 40 bodies have been retrieved from the sea. There were 162 bodies onboard the flight.
Tony Fernandez has responded to this discovery, and has said that he was on his way to Surabaya to deal with the situation.
Upon hearing the confirmation and seeing the grim footage of the floating bodies on the ocean surface, several family members of the victims of the now-confirmed QR8501 disaster broke down in tears and grief.
Retrieval of the bodies is still underway, with Indonesian rescue efforts seen gathering body bags in preparation.
[UPDATE 6.30pm] Several people have stepped up to offer their condolences, including Malaysian Airlines and Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen. Singapore RSN frigate, corvette, and LST are joining the operation.
[UPDATE 6.40pm] Bambang Soelistyo, National Search and Rescue Agency chief, has released a statement saying that all efforts are concentrated on the location where the “shadow” of a plane and debris have been spotted, around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on Borneo island.
[UPDATE 6.47pm] Channel NewsAsia Indonesia Correspondent Devianti Faridz reports that the debris and bodies of passengers were found in the Karimata Straits south of Pangkalan Bun at 3pm local time. Bodies will be sent to Surabaya, East Java, for verification, while representatives from the National Transportation Safety Committee will head to Pangkalan Bun to analyse airplane wreckage.
[UPDATE 7.04pm] Pictures released of items retrieved from the debris.
[UPDATE: 7.07pm] Flight Radar gives us a closer look between where contact with QZ8501 was lost and where the bodies and debris were found.
[UPDATE 7.15pm] PM Najib has extended his condolences, and has pledged Malaysia’s help and extra funds to rescue efforts.
[UPDATE 7.23pm] News just in – a far less serious incident involving an AirAsia craft occurred in Kalibo, Philippines. Due to bad weather, the plane overshot, and everyone had to leave the plane via emergency slide. No injuries, and passengers are being attended to. News broken by @jetdsantos, a passenger on the flight.
[UPDATE: 9.37pm] Recovery efforts have been halted due to bad weather and strong waves, and will continue tomorrow. AirAsia has released the following statement on their Facebook page:
AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 Update (as of 30 December 2014 18:00 PM (GMT+7)
AIRASIA INDONESIA FLIGHT QZ8501
AS OF 30 DECEMBER 2014 18:00 PM LT (GMT+7)
SURABAYA, 30TH DECEMBER 2014 – 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 28th.
The debris of the aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun. The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crews and one engineer.
At the present time, search and rescue operations are still in progress and further investigation of the debris found at the location is still underway. AirAsia Indonesia employees have been sent to the site and will be fully cooperating with BASARNAS, National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), and relevant authorities on the investigation.
Sunu Widyatmoko, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Indonesia said: “We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances. We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues.”
Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia added: “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.”
AirAsia Indonesia will be inviting family members to Surabaya, where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met. Counsellors, religious and spiritual personnel have also been invited to the family center to provide any necessary services.
Further information will be released as soon as it becomes available. An emergency call centre has been established and available for families seeking information. Family members of QZ8501, please contact:
Malaysia: +60 3 21795959
Indonesia: +62 2129270811
Singapore: +65 63077688
Korea: 007 98142069940
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of our passengers and colleagues on board QZ8501.
This is a developing story. The team at Vulcan Post offers their sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this disaster.