Jakarta, Dec 31:
Seven bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea site, where the crashed AirAsia flight is believed to have gone down, at the end of the search operations Wednesday.
While four of the bodies were recovered Wednesday, three were recovered Tuesday. Four of them are males and three females.
Two of the bodies were taken to the Indonesian city of Surabaya from where the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off Sunday morning for Singapore before going missing 42 minutes later.
The two bodies, of a male and a female, were received by Governor Soekarwo of Indonesia’s East Java province, Antara news agency reported.
“Today we received two bodies. We have handed them over to the East Java Provincial Police to be identified,” Soekarwo noted.
The AirAsia aircraft, an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC, was carrying 162 passengers and crew on board — 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans and one person each from Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and France.
The plane, piloted by Captain Iriyanto and First Officer (FO) Remi Emmanuel Plesel, was scheduled to arrive in Singapore at 8.30 a.m. Sunday.
Earlier Wednesday, Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said that the two bodies were flown from Pangkalan Bun to Surabaya.
Due to favourable weather conditions, the search team’s helicopter was able to retrieve the two bodies from the Indonesian warship KRI Banda Aceh, which was in the waters near Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.
“The other five bodies are now being evacuated. Hopefully, the team will be able to move the bodies from the ship,” Soelistyo said.
As many as 168 coffins have been made available in Pangkalan Bun for bringing the bodies to Surabaya.
Earlier in the day, Indonesian officials said that sonar has detected wreckage from the plane at the bottom of the Java sea.
The officials were, however, unsure whether the aircraft was in one piece or has disintegrated.
As many as 17 helicopters and nine aircraft were deployed on the fourth day of the search operation.
Other vessels, including three warships and two survey ships equipped with underwater detectors, were on their way to the crash site to join the hunt for the plane’s black boxes.
Soelistyo told a press conference Tuesday that an Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules saw a “shadow” under water, believed to be that of the AirAsia plane.
Meanwhile, Jakarta-based Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has predicted moderate to high intensity rainfall in the search area Thursday.
Besides the rainfall, waves in the search area can reach one to three meters in height, BMKG spokesman Fachri Radjab said, Antara reported. (IANS)