Bodies from crashed AirAsia plane arrive in Indonesian city

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

AirAsia flight QZ8501: The most powerful images from the search.

A sonar image showing a large, dark object under the sea was presumed to be the missing AirAsia plane, an official with Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Wednesday. The first two bodies from the AirAsia plane that crashed off the coast of Borneo have arrived in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where relatives have gathered to await news of their loved ones.SURABAYA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities began deploying divers to retrieve debris from the crashed AirAsia jetliner as a day of adverse weather hindered efforts to find the plane’s black boxes.Stormy weather has hindered the efforts of rescuers to recover the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, even as a seventh body was pulled from the Java Sea Wednesday.

Photographers on the scene in Indonesia have captured the heart-breaking grief felt by families, showing them praying and breaking down into tears as they are told no survivors have yet been found. Searchers pulled seven bodies so far, including that of a female flight attendant, from the wreckage site of Flight 8501, while 17 helicopters assisted recovery efforts, F.H. Heavy rain, wind, and thick clouds have prevented divers from carrying out their recovery operations and largely grounded helicopters, though ships were still scouring the area.

Sixty-seven divers were on standby, waiting to examine the shattered fuselage of the Airbus A320-200 resting at a depth of up to 160 feet and recover the black boxes that may hold the key as to why the passenger jet went down, searchers said. Earlier in the day, images of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing already gathered at a crisis centre in Surabaya wept with heads in their hands.

Relatives of doomed flight’s passengers howled and collapsed in horror Tuesday as TV footage of a half-naked floating corpse crushed their hopes for a miracle. Several people collapsed in grief and were helped away. “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ8501,” AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes tweeted today. “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”.

Another victim was wearing a life jacket, which may raise questions about whether the passengers may have known that the plane was going down, despite the lack of a distress call from the pilots. “One individual with a life jacket doesn’t tell much,” Greg Waldron, the Asia managing editor for industry publication Flightglobal, told The Wall Street Journal. “It could be a person who thought that the plane was going down and put the life jacket on. At the centre, a man identified only as Yohannes and his wife were at the centre awaiting news of her brother, Herumanto Tanus, and two of his children who were on board the doomed flight. The airliner’s disappearance halfway through a two-hour flight between Surabaya, Indonesia, and Singapore triggered an international search for the aircraft involving dozens of planes, ships and helicopters. The Tanus family had been on their way to visit Herumanto’s son, who studies in Singapore and who travelled to Surabaya on Monday after the plane went missing.

Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to receive and identify bodies, including arranging 130 ambulances to take victims to a police hospital and collecting DNA from relatives. The cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders are essential to piecing together what happened in the six minutes between the time the pilot asked the control tower for permission to deviate from the flight path and when the jet dropped off radar contact. Preliminary data appeared to show that AirAsia made an “unbelievably” steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the plane’s limits, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the probe’s initial findings. I can’t really put this into words.” Yohannes, who goes by a single name, was waiting at the airport with his wife for news about her brother, passenger Herumantu Tanus.

The plane needs to be located and its cockpit voice and flight data recorders, or black boxes, recovered before officials can start determining what caused the crash. Images of the debris and a bloated body shown on Indonesian television sent a spasm of anguish through the room at the Surabaya airport where relatives awaited news. Malaysia-based AirAsia’s loss comes on top of the still-unsolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March with 239 people aboard, and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine, which killed all 298 passengers and crew.

Among them is Haidar Fauzie, 60, whose daughter Khairunnisa was a flight attendant on the doomed plane. “From the start, we already knew the risk associated with being a stewardess,” he said Tuesday. “She is beautiful and smart. Another find included a bright blue plastic suitcase, completely unscratched. “I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead,” said Ifan Joko, who lost seven family members, three of them children, as they traveled to Singapore to ring in the new year. “We still pray they are alive.” Rescue workers descended on ropes from a hovering helicopter to retrieve bodies. Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country‘s aviation industry and spooked travellers. Supriyadi was on the aircraft and saw what appeared to be more wreckage under the water, which was clear and a relatively shallow 20 to 30 meters (65 to 100 feet). Flight 8501 pilots requested to climb to 38,000 feet and were given a response two minutes later to fly at 34,000 feet, Wisnu Darjono, director at AirNav Indonesia, the nation’s air navigation operator, told Bloomberg News today, citing a transcript of the conversation between traffic controllers and the plane.

Dozens of elite military divers were expected to help locate the remainder of the victims from the postcard-pretty aqua waters where the Airbus went down. The transcript is being submitted for review by the National Transport Safety Committee. “The weather’s terrible: It’s monsoonal and there’s quite a bit of wave height,” said Robert Mann, head of aviation consultant R.W. The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002.

Mann & Co. in Port Washington, New York. “You just don’t have visibility and you don’t have a stable platform to work from.” The recovery effort will involve salvaging large pieces of the plane, engines, landing gear and other wreckage requiring heavy-duty lifting capability. Bad weather may persist for the next few days, Tatang Zaenudin, deputy for operations at the search agency, said at a Jakarta news conference in the early evening. Flight 8501 is the third high-profile incident involving a carrier in Asia this year, raising safety concerns in one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world. Philip Mantofa urged the crowd to hold onto their faith, despite their pain. “Some things do not make sense to us, but God is bigger than all this,” he said. “Our God is not evil … help us God to move forward even though we are surrounded by darkness.” Before breaking up, those gathered stood together and sang with their hands reaching upward: “I surrender all. National Transportation Safety Board held a forum in October on the subject and is “is currently exploring what the next steps might be,” including possible safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration, Peter Knudson, an NTSB spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.

However, Surabaya airport general manager Trikora Hardjo later said the trip was canceled after authorities suggested they stay to avoid slowing down the operation. It was 13-year-old Adrian Fernando’s first trip to the city-state on what was supposed to be a fun vacation with his aunt, uncle and cousin before school resumed. “He is my only son,” said his emotional mother, Linca Gonimasela, who could not accompany him because she had to work. “At first, he didn’t want to go. The hunt continues for that plane which disappeared in March and has become the longest search for a passenger jet in modern aviation history. _ Rahadiana reported from Jakarta.

But later on, he was persuaded to join them for the New Year’s holiday.” A number of Indonesian cities have opted to cancel or tone down New Year’s Eve celebrations.

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