Rescuers in Indonesia searching for the AirAsia flight missing since Sunday pulled wreckage and spotted bodies from the sea off the coast of Borneo Tuesday, authorities said.
The plane, however, has yet to be found.
Flight QZ8501 was carrying 162 people aboard when it lost contact with air traffic control during a flight from Surabaya to Singapore.
“My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ8501,” airline boss Tony Fernandes tweeted. “On behalf of AirAsia, my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am.”
The airline said in a statement that it was 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.”
Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing already gathered at a crisis center in Surabaya wept with heads in their hands. Several people collapsed in grief and were helped away.
“You have to be strong,” the mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, said as she comforted relatives. “They are not ours, they belong to God.”
A navy spokesman said a plane door, oxygen tanks and one body had been recovered and taken away by helicopter for tests.
“The challenge is waves up to three meters high,” Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters, adding that the search operation would go on all night. He declined to answer questions on whether any survivors had been found.
The plane disappeared shortly after the pilot requested permission to fly higher due to bad weather. The pilot did not issue a distress signal before the plane lost contact with air control.
The Indonesian pilot was experienced and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, the airline said.
An investigation continues. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.
SOURCE: Reuters | VIDEO SOURCE: News Inc.