6 Bodies allegedly recovered from AirAsia flight 8501 plane crash

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By The Daily Mail UK

Rescue workers searching for the doomed AirAsia flight 8501 have recovered six bodies from the Java Sea, Indonesian search and rescue teams have confirmed.

Bodies were discovered alongside luggage, a plane door and an emergency slide in the water 100 miles off the coast of Borneo Island earlier today, following three days of searching.

Officials have confirmed that the bodies and debris found in the Java Sea off Indonesia are from flight 8501, and a naval spokesman said the rescuers remain ‘very busy’ retrieving the victims.

Despite an earlier claim by a navy spokesman that 40 bodies had been recovered, the figure was later corrected by the search agency Basarnas, which said that six bodies had been found so far.

Before darkness fell in the area, search teams identified a shadow that they believe to be the plane’s fuselage beneath the water, which is relatively shallow at just 160 feet at its deepest point. Many of the remaining victims are thought likely to still be on board the aircraft

The Airbus A320-200 was 42 minutes into its flight from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore on Sunday when it vanished with 162 people on board.

The recovery of the six bodies came as devastated relatives of AirAsia crash victims collapsed in grief and were taken to hospital after an Indonesian television station showed disturbing uncensored footage of the corpses floating in the sea.

Images shown on a news channel showed at least one body floating in the water, causing the victims’ relatives – who were watching live reports at crisis-centre at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya – to burst into tears, with some fainting and requiring hospital treatment.

The decision to broadcast the uncensored images on live television has led to severe criticism of news channel TV One.

Grieving friends and relatives of passengers sat sobbing quietly into tissues an gazed into thin air as they took in the news and realized that the ‘bodies could be their relatives.

Police officers had to be drafted in to stop press from entering the building, according to Time Magazine.

The bodies were seen from a helicopter and were taken to an Indonesian navy ship.

Navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir said several victims were found while Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto said at least one body had been found.

Earlier, Indonesia National Search and Rescue spokesman Yusuf Latif said an Indonesian military aircraft saw white, red and black objects, including what appeared to be a lifejacket, off the coast, about 105 miles south of Pangkalan Bun.

A massive international search effort has been launched since Flight 8501, an Airbus A320-200 with 155 passengers and seven crew aboard, disappeared from radar over the Java Sea near Belitung island.

The US, China, Australia, Malaysia and Thailand have all been involved in the search, with local fishermen helping.

The news of the sighting of the debris came within two hours of it being revealed that family members were intending to fly over the search area on Sunday so they could pray for those who were missing.

It was not immediately clear whether that charter flight will now go ahead as officials said that viewing the debris would be likely to cause great anxiety.

The items are expected to be picked up by helicopters and flown to a search and rescue co-ordination post on Belitung Island,lying between the southern tip of Sumatra Island and the south of Borneo.

Earlier this morning, search jets were dispatched to Long Island, part of the Indonesian archipelago, to investigate as they continue the hunt for the aircraft which disappeared on Sunday with 162 people on board,CNN reports.

While the smoke sighting could be one of many things, Dr Max Ruland, Director of Operations for the search and rescue mission, confirmed to CBS News that two Cessna jets have been dispatched.

The Airbus A320-200 lost contact at about 6.17am local time en route from Surabaya, in Indonesia’s east Java, to Singapore after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather.

Aviation experts have revealed veteran pilots usually avoid the area known as the ‘thunderstorm factory’ where AirAsia Flight 8501 went missing because of its catastrophic storms.

Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman Neil Hansford told Channel 9’s Today most flights went around the area and somebody ‘dropped the ball’ when they made the flight plan for QZ8501.

Australia added an extra plane in its contribution to the search this morning.

Two RAAF P3 Orion planes with specialist equipment are now part of the international hunt to find the aircraft. Their search is focused to the west of the island of Kalimantan, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.

The US navy also agreed to join the multi-national search operation on its third day and have reportedly sent USS Sampson to assist.

A statement from the Pentagon said Indonesia had requested their help and their assistance ‘could include some air, surface and sub-surface detection capabilities’.

Day three of the search saw the operation expand to land, including the western part of West Kalimantan province, National Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo confirmed.

Dozens of planes and ships focused their search on two patches of oil spotted in Indonesian waters on Monday as a senior official warned the aircraft was likely at the ‘bottom of the sea’. But the patch later emerged to be a coral reef, 9News reported.

Mr Soelistyo said an Indonesian corvette – a warship – was sent to test the spills.

It has also emerged one of the pilots on-board the missing flight had been denied a request to increase altitude to avoid storm clouds minutes before it disappeared.

In the last communication with air traffic control, six minutes before it vanished off radar, a pilot asked permission to turn left and climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet due to the adverse weather.

But the request could not immediately be granted because another plane was in the airspace at 34,000 feet, Bambang Tjahjono, director of the state-owned company in charge of air-traffic control, said.

By the time clearance could be given, Flight 8501 had disappeared, he added.

AirAsia’s fleet of short-haul jets was already being fitted with upgraded tracking devices, but the A320 jetliner had not yet been modified when it went missing, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Waters in the search area, which is roughly the size of California, are not particularly deep at between 130 feet and 160 feet.

In Singapore today, people were beginning to make comparisons with the early days of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which lost contact in March this year and has remained missing, with aviation experts concluding that it had probably gone down in the southern Indian Ocean.

A widespread search of the South China Sea where it last made contact failed to turn up anything other than debris and oil slicks that, officially, were not linked to the aircraft.

Mr Thomas said this should not happen in an A320, so it appears as though it was related to extreme weather conditions.

‘He got caught in a massive updraft or something like that. Something’s gone terribly wrong,’ he said.

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