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Navy chief: Three more bodies sighted
Published:  Dec 31, 2014 8:52 AM
Updated: 2:50 PM

QZ8501 AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore flight carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members on board went missing on Sunday morning.

The Airbus 320-200 took off from Surabaya in Java, Indonesia, at 5.20am local time (6.20am Malaysian time) and was due to arrive in Singapore two hours later, but then lost contact with air traffic control.

Search and rescue (SAR) efforts have confirmed it crashed in the Karimata Straits between Belitung Island and Kalimantan.

Malaysiakini brings you the live updates of information as it comes in.


Latest developments

  • DNA samples extracted from 30 families


  • Praises for AirAsia CEO

  • Family identifies victim by her bracelet and ring

  • 'Stewardess' body found'

  • Of seven bodies found, four are men and three women

  • Post-mortem on a yet to be identified woman and man shows they died about three days ago

    10.43pm: Air Asia group chief Tony Fernandes lauds the professionalism of the Indonesian authorities.

    "I continue to be humbled and touched by the incredible efforts and professionlism put forth by National Search and Rescue Body (Basarnas), the army, navy, air force and police of Indonesia.

    "The search and rescue operations were unfortunately hampered by bad weather today but I am hopeful they will be able to resume the search tomorrow," he says in a statement.

    Post-mortem shows victims died three days ago

    9.58pm : Preliminary forensic checks found the bodies of a man an a woman pulled from the waters are still in perfect condition, despite the duo having died about three days ago, Bernama reports.

    The bodies have yet to be identified forensically and are going through post-mortem examinations at Hospital Bhayangkara, 40 kilometres from Surabaya.

    Twenty doctors and surgeons are on standby so autopsies can be completed within 48 hours.

    East Java Chief Commissioner Budiyono hopes the families of victims ca come forward

    The crisis centre will also be moved from Juanda Airport in Surabaya to the hospital, the newswire reports.

    9.36pm: Radar data shows that QZ8501 made a steep climb before crashing, a source familiar with the investigations tells Reuters .

    "So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft," the source said.

    However, the data is incomplete.

    AirAsia Indonesia hopes there will be survivors

    7.30pm: AirAsia Indonesia chief executive officer Sunu Widyatmoko still hopes that there will be survivors from the plane crash, reports .

    “The past four days have been the saddest days for us. However, I hope that there are survivors whom the (search and reascue) team will find,” said Sunu.

    “We hope for a miracle from God and we must believe in that (miracle),” he said.

    Three more bodies being recovered

    6.15pm: Malaysian navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar says search vessel KD Pahang had sighted three bodies of victims, at 4.30pm today.

    The ship is in the process of recovering the bodies, says Abdul Aziz in his tweet.

    Pilot happiest when he is flying, says father

    6.00pm: Suwarto, the father of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilot Iriyanto, says his son had always dreamed of flying as a child and was "happiest" when he is up in the air.

    Before Iriyanto ( left ) piloted commercial planes, he had been flying F-16 and F-5 jet fighters, says Suwarto.

    “He was most happy when he flew fighter jets," says his teary 76-year-old father, according to Bloomberg.

    Suwarto says the last time he met Iriyanto was 10 days before the aircraft disappeared, where he buried another son who had died.

    The father adds that Iriyanto is also an avid biker and the latter had uploaded various pictures of himself on superbikes on Facebook.

    In a Dec 17 posting, Iriyanto posted a picture of himself in the cockpit with the words "musim petir" (lightning season).

    Family identifies victim by her bracelet and ring

    5.50pm: Family of deceased passenger Hayati Lutfiah confirms that she had worn bracelets and gold rings on both her right and left hands.

    Her niece, Fany Meilinda, 29, said that her aunt had worn gold bracelets and rings, reports .

    Indonesian navy ship KRI Bung Tomo’s commander Yayan Sofyan has earlier confirmed that a female body above the age of 40 found wearing a black shirt, still had her bracelet and gold ring on her right hand and finger.

    5.25pm: Teams in search of the black box from Singapore and France have joined Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) in Tanjung Pandan, Belitung. reports a spokesperson from the team confirming that they are from Singapore, together with 11 other members, who are tasked to find the black box.

    PDRM offers identification team

    5.20pm: The Royal Malaysian Police says they are willing to send a disaster victim identification (DVI) team to help Indonesian authorities in identifying the victims of AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501.

    Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar expresses confidence that the DVI team will be of help to the Indonesian authorities based on the team’s experience and expertise, reports Bernama.

    'No bodies wearing life jacket'

    5.10pm: Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) stresses that no bodies were found wearing a life jacket.

    Instead, a body of a male was found near a life jacket, says Basarnas deputy operations chief Tatang Zaenuddin, reports .

    Umbrellas and instant porridge among items found

    4.45pm: SAR operations has retrieved 28 items at the search site. Among them are instant porridge and umbrellas.

    “There are some luggage, small snacks, instant porridge and three umbrellas,” says Colonel Yayan, who is part of the SAR team, reports .

    Other items include luggage with a red bag inside, Adidas bag, backpacks, name tag with Hayati Lutfiah and keys.

    There were also survival kits with AirAsia written on them.

    “This makes us convinced that this is indeed the QZ8501,” says Yayan.

    4.07pm : One of the victims found wearing a life jacket raises questions about the final moments with regard to the ill-fated plane.

    A Reuters report notes that it indicates those on board had at least some time before the aircraft hit the water, or after it hit the water and before it sank.

    And yet the pilots did not issue a distress signal.

    However, Tatang Zaenudin, an official with the search and rescue agency who spoke to Reuters , declined to speculate on the issue.

    Fernandes: 'This is soul destroying'

    4pm: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes, who is now at Pangkalan Bun, says that a "very professional job" is being done.

    "The reality of seeing the evacuees and some of my aircraft parts are soul destroying. But we stay strong for the families, Allstars and our guests," he tweets.

    He also thanks Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), as well as the Indonesian army, navy and police for their "incredible efforts".

    "They have been very transparent and very detailed," says Fernandes in his tweet.

    Indonesians take pride in their work

    3.55pm: Indonesian search and rescue team members are taking pride in the fact that they were the first ones to spot debris from the ill-fated plane yesterday.

    In an interview with Kompas TV , the pilot for the CN295 plane, who goes by the name Ammad says that it was a matter of pride that a completely local crew had spotted the debris while flying in a locally-made plane.

    "This shows that our people are capable of carrying out rescue duties in our own territory," he is quoted as saying.

    'Life raft among the findings'

    3.30pm: Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) has found a life raft from the plane, reports.

    Meanwhile, the two bodies flown to Surabaya is that of a woman and a teenage boy.

    Channel NewsAsia also reports that about 75 ambulances are on standby at the Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, to ferry any bodies recovered from the wreckage.

    Any bodies recovered will be flown via Hercules aircraft to Juanda airport – a journey of about 1.5 hours – before being conveyed by ambulance to the local hospital, about 10km away. Forensics plus the identification of bodies will be conducted at the hospital, according to staff at the hospital, states the report.

    Relatives of passengers will be ferried to the hospital. Bodies may be sent to the family home thereafter, Channel NewsAsia quotes the hospital staff.

    'Rough sea pushes bodies further away'

    3.15pm: Singapore’s The Straits Time s, quoting officials, reports that strong waves have pushed bodies in the sea about 50km east from its locations yesterday.

    As such, ships have been deployed to wait by the coastline as the bodies appear to be heading towards the Kalimantan shores.

    The number of divers, meanwhile, has been increased to 90.

    Three identified

    3pm: Three of the bodies found have been identified as Hayati Lutfiah from Tegalsari, Surabaya; stewardess Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, 22; and a male by the name of Kevin, reports .

    Another body, however, is beyond identification due to its decomposition.

    Praises for AirAsia CEO

    2.55pm: Wall Street Journal praises AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes ( right ) for taking the lead in the crisis management and personally briefing family members, following the loss of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

    The US-based news agency also commends Fernandes' statement that AirAsia will not "hide behind any convention" in what it says could refer to the Montreal Convention that guarantees compensation for air crash victims.

    Fernandes yesterday announced he will "take responsibility" and financial assistance will be disbursed immediately.

    'Please, let it be our sister'

    2.30pm: The family of stewardess Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, 22, says that they are ready to accept the body which is said to have been clad in the AirAsia crew uniform, reports .

    "God willing, we are strong. If it is that of a stewardess, we hope it is her body," says Nisa's brother M Ikhsan Nul Kamil.

    Meanwhile, Indonesian portals quote aviation expert Chappy Hakim as saying that the plane may not have fallen from the altitude of 32,000 feet, as is widely believed.

    He says that judging from the fact that the luggage and bodies found are intact, there is likeliness the plane did not fall from such a great height.

    'All bodies are in good condition'

    2.15pm: Two of the seven bodies found have been brought to shore and are now being transferred to Surabaya for identification purposes, reports .

    2pm: The seventh body found by the search and rescue team today was wearing a life jacket, the team's head Bambang Soelistyo is quoted as saying by Channel News Asia .

    Bambang ( left ) is also quoted by as saying that the bodies were all in "good" condition, though he refused to divulge any further information.

    1.47pm: A total of seven bodies - four men, three women - have been recovered so far, reports Singapore's Channel News Asia , quoting the local search and rescue chief.

    1.40pm: The crisis centre in Juanda, near Surabaya, has been shifted to East Java, reports. 
    According to the portal, hundreds of ambulance vans with containers and coffins for the bodies have been prepared as the search and rescue team retrieves bodies of those who perished in the tragedy.

    Indonesia finds large, dark object

    1.12pm: A sonar image showing a large, dark object under the sea has been presumed to be the missing AirAsia plane, reports Reuters .

    "It's about 30 to 50 metres underwater," says Hernanto, an official with Indonesia's search and rescue (SAR) agency.

    SAR crew are standing by to collect and identify bodies from the plane.

    "We are praying it is the plane so the evacuation can be done quickly," Hernanto adds.

    Jokowi holds cabinet meeting

    12.04pm: Indonesian president Joko Widodo will hold a cabinet meeting at his office today, which will among others, discuss the AirAsia plane crash.

    10.40am : DNA samples have been extracted from 30 families with loved ones on board the ill-fated for identification purposes, reports .

    The authorities are hoping for more of the immediate family members to come forward so that samples can be taken.

    USS Sampson told to be on standby

    10.20am: The Indonesian national SAR operations has asked the United States warship USS Sampson that has been sent to assist in the search operations to be on standby.

    Authorities also stated that while they welcome help from neighbouring countries, they will only use this when they need back-up, reports .

    10.15am: Besides bodies, the SAR teams have also salvaged two of the plane's doors, one emergency window, a few backpacks with food as well as children's shoes and a pocket camera, quotes officials as saying.

    Bad weather hampers retrieval efforts

    10.05 am: An additional 20 more divers are now on stand-by, making the total divers involved in the SAR operations 47.

    Officials of the SAR operations say due to choppy seas and bad weather , they are still not able to continue with retrieval of bodies.

    10 am: Britain, Singapore and France are sending experts to help trace the black box belonging to the plane. Airbus has also sent its experts to help locate the wreckage of the plane, reports .

    9.10am: The Hercules plane involved in the SAR operations is forced to return to the base at Halim due to bad weather conditions.

    SAR operations today started at 5.40am, reports .

    'Stewardess' body found'

    9am: For now, six bodies have been fished out, three males and three females.

    One of the bodies have been identified as that of a stewardess, reports . Another was a young boy.

    Body bags and mobile morgues have also been set up at Pangkalan Bun, the nearest naval base to the search site.

    Officials say the SAR operations today will be intensified to the maximum, as weather is expected to take a turn for the worse.

    'Three bodies, one of a child's'

    8.30am: Of the three bodies from the ill-fated plane fished out of the waters of Belitung yesterday, one is that of a child's. reports that officials say the bodies spotted from the Hercules army plane are of two males and one female.

    "One male was of an adult and another of a boy's," say officials involved in the SAR operations until 7pm yesterday.

    The search continues today at first light of dawn.

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