Indonesia: Six bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea as a multi-nation recovery effort resumes it fits and starts because of rough weather on Wednesday (Dec 31) following the discovery of debris overnight from the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 at the weekend.
Three bodies were recovered Wednesday morning, taking the figure to six, but rough weather has hampered the search in the sea and delayed the ability of air and water craft to bring the victims to Surabaya where relatives are waiting along with hospital staff and debris to a processing centre onshore at Pangkalan Bun in Kalimantan, according to Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.
"We are experiencing bad weather now. Rains and winds prevented us from resuming the search operation this morning," air force rescue coordinator SB Supriyadi told AFP.
Personnel from Singapore's navy have arrived at the scene and were given a more defined search area to work with - about 600 nautical miles from Singapore, according to Channel NewsAsia's Lam Shushan.
In Surabaya, ambulances are on hand and Bhayankara Hospital says it is "100 per cent ready" to receive the bodies of the victims.
SEARCH FOR PLANE WRECKAGE
The flight from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore went missing Sunday and took nearly three days to discover debris from the passenger jet and a related aerial sighting of the suspected aircraft on the sea floor, which AirAsia confirmed as the downed aircraft.
Mr Soelistyo said earlier that an air force plane Tuesday spotted a "shadow" on the seabed believed to be the missing AirAsia jet. "God blessed us today," Mr Soelistyo told a Tuesday press conference.
The aircraft is believed to be in an area of the sea where depths range from 25m to 30m, though it the fuselage may be broken in parts and debris scattered over a wide area, marine salvage experts say.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Indonesia's search-and-rescue agency has obtained a sonar image that it says may be the body of the missing AirAsia jet on the floor of the Java Sea - reportedly showing an airplane upside down on the ocean floor in 24m to 30m of water. The image was obtained Tuesday by an Indonesian Navy ship that is part of the search-and-recovery effort, the agency said in a release early Wednesday morning.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes travelled to Surabaya on Tuesday and pledged to "do whatever we can do" to help grieving relatives and friends, adding that his heart was "broken".
"The passengers were on my aircraft and I have to take responsibility for that," he said, adding that he was focusing on supporting the families. "It's an experience I never dreamt of happening and it's probably and it's probably an airline CEO's worst nightmare," Fernandes said.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also speaking in Surabaya on Tuesday where distraught relatives were being offered information and help by AirAsia and local authorities, offered his prayers.He said that recovery would resume in full force as soon as possible as the heavy seas hampered efforts. Widodo said he had flown over areas where wreckage and bodies have been recovered and thanked emergency personnel and volunteers for their work.
The plane lost radar contact on Sunday with Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and the United States sending ships and planes along with other equipment to help in the search. China, India and South Korea as well as New Zealand also offered help.