Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Air Asia QZ8501 - 2 bodies have finally arrived in Juanda International Airport

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 Victim's relatives is going to be transported to the new Crisis Center
Singapore has offered two more Navy vessels for use in the search and recovery of AirAsia flight QZ8501.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Wednesday that Singapore had offered to send a Mine Counter-Measure Vessel, which has underwater sonar and a remotely operated vehicle, and the Remus, which is an autonomous underwater vehicle. - Straits Times

AirAsia QZ8501 wreckage at bottom of sea, bad weather hampers recovery

AirAsia QZ8501 wreckage at bottom of sea, bad weather hampers recovery

Last updated on: December 31, 2014 13:45 IST

Searchers using sonar equipment on Wednesday located the wreckage of the ill-fated AirAsia plane carrying 162 people at the bottom of the JavaSea off Indonesia, even as bad weather hampered the recovery of many bloated bodies seen floating around the crash site.
Searchers using sonar equipment have located wreckage from AirAsia flight QZ8501 at the bottom of the JavaSea, an Indonesian search and rescue official said.
Indonesian Search and Rescue crews unload one of two bodies of AirAsia passengers recovered from the sea, at the airport in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. Photograph: Darren Whiteside/ Reuters
Indonesian rescuers have recovered various bits of debris, including luggage, and seven bodies floating in shallow waters off Borneo.
“It’s about 30 to 50 metres (100 to 165 feet) underwater,” the official with the search and rescue agency, said of the sonar image.
At the moment, they still do not know if it is in one piece or broken up, the official was quoted as saying by CNN.
Relatives of AirAsia QZ 8501 victims take part the identification process at the DVI Center in Juanda International Airport. Photograph: Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
Nearly three days after the Airbus A320-200 went off the radar; its debris was found on Tuesday in the KarimataStrait near Pangkalanbun, Central Kalimantan.
Divers were to be deployed to search for bodies and for the plane's ‘black box’ flight recorders but officials said heavy rain, strong winds and waves of up to three metres had forced them to suspend the operation.
At least seven bodies have been retrieved from the sea till now. Three bodies, two female and one male, were recovered on Tuesday while four more were pulled out on Wednesday.
Relatives of passengers on AirAsia flight QZ 8501 react to the news of debris and bodies being found. Photograph: Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
One of the bodies pulled out on Tuesday was dressed in air stewardess uniform, said Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia's search and rescue agency Basarnas.
Many bodies were seen floating in the sea by the rescuers and efforts were being made to retrieve them, officials said.
However, the efforts to locate victims and wreckage of the plane were hampered by stormy weather and strong tides.
Divers were to be deployed to search for bodies and for the plane’s black box flight recorders but officials said heavy rain, strong winds and waves of up to 3 metres had forced them to suspend the air operation, though ships already in place were continuing the search.
"We are in a wait and see. Weather is bad currently. High tides and heavy rains. Every element is now in their position ready to make a move when weather improves," Soelistyo said.
"As soon as the weather is clear, the bodies will be brought to Pangkalan Bun," he said.
Indonesian officials on Tuesday confirmed that remains and debris found in the waters off Borneo are from the AirAsia plane. 
An Indonesian Navy airman prays on his plane before searching the waters near Bangka Island for debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in a navy air patrol craft near Bangka Island, Indonesia. Photograph: Ed Wray/Getty Images
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has promised a “massive search by the ships and helicopters” with the focus on recovering the bodies of victims. Widodo has inspected the crash location from the C-130 Hercules aircraft.
“I feel the loss from this tragedy and we all pray for the families to be given fortitude and strength,” he said, speaking in Surabaya, from where the plane had taken off on Sunday morning for Singapore.
Indonesian officials on Tuesday confirmed that remains and debris found in the waters off Borneo are from the AirAsiaplane that took off from Surabaya for Singapore.
Relatives of the 162 people on board the ill-fated plane hugged each other and burst into tears on Tuesday as they watched television footage of bodies floating in the sea.
A member of the search team looks out over the waters of the Java Sea near Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan . Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images
The plane was carrying 155 passengers -- one British, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, three South Koreans, 149 Indonesians -- and seven crew members -- six Indonesians and a French co-pilot.
Seventeen of the passengers were children. There were no Indian nationals on board.
The mystery still remains over why the plane lost contact with air traffic control and what happened afterwards.
Families of people aboard AirAsia plane have been briefed by officials that sonar technology has "spotted the plane on sea floor," a relative of some of the passengers said. 

AirAsia victim was wearing a life jacket, raising fresh questions over disaster

AirAsia victim was wearing a life jacket, raising fresh questions over disaster

  • Sonar image from sea bed believed to be fuselage
  • Seven bodies and debris recovered from the Java Sea
  • Evidence suggests aircraft was intact when it hit the water
  • Large waves and strong winds hamper search effort
airasia disaster
Indonesian rescue crews transfer the body of an AirAsia disaster victim from a helicopter at Iskandar air base in Borneo on Wednesday. Photograph: Bagus Indahono/EPA
A body recovered on Wednesday from the crashed AirAsia plane was wearing a life jacket, an official with Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said, raising questions about how the disaster unfolded.
Rescuers believe they have found the plane on the ocean floor off Borneo, after sonar detected a large, dark object beneath waters near where debris and bodies were found on the surface.
Ships and planes had been scouring the Java Sea for flight QZ8501 since Sunday, when it lost contact during bad weather about 40 minutes into its flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
Seven bodies have been recovered from the sea, some fully clothed, which could indicate the Airbus A320-200 was intact when it hit the water. That would support a theory that it suffered an aerodynamic stall.
The fact that one person put on a life jacket would appear to indicate those on board had at least some time before the aircraft hit the water, or after it hit the water and before it sank.
However, the pilots did not issue a distress signal. The plane disappeared after it failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic. 
“This morning, we recovered a total of four bodies and one of them was wearing a life jacket,” Tatang Zaenudin, an official with the search and rescue agency, told Reuters. 
Ships and planes have been scouring the Java Sea for the aircraft since it vanished. Indonesian rescuers have recovered various bits of debris, including luggage, and seven bodies floating in shallow waters off Borneo.
Hernanto, head of the search and rescue agency in Surabaya, said rescuers believed they had found the fuselage of the plane on the sea bed with a sonar scan in water about 30 to 50 metres (100 to 165 feet) deep. The black box flight data and cockpit voice recorder has yet to be found.
“The fact that the debris appears fairly contained suggests the aircraft broke up when it hit the water, rather than in the air,” said Neil Hansford, a former pilot and chairman of consultancy firm Strategic Aviation Solutions.
Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to receive and identify bodies, including arranging 130 ambulances, to take the victims to a police hospital and to collect DNA from relatives.
“We are praying it is the plane so the evacuation can be done quickly,” Hernanto said.
Most of the people on board the Airbus A320-200 plane were Indonesians. No survivors have been found.
Officials said waves up to three metres high and strong winds were hampering the hunt for wreckage and preventing divers from searching the crash zone.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo said his priority was retrieving the bodies.
“I feel a deep loss over this disaster and pray for the families to be given fortitude and strength,” Widodo said in Surabaya on Tuesday after grim images of the scene in the Java Sea were broadcast on television.
Widodo said AirAsia would pay an immediate advance of money to relatives, many of whom collapsed in grief when they saw the television pictures from the search.
AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes has described the crash as his “worst nightmare”.
About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search.
Singapore said it was sending two underwater beacon detectors to try to pick up pings from the black boxes, which contain cockpit voice and flight data recorders.
The plane, which did not issue a distress signal, disappeared after its pilot failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic.
It was travelling at 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet. When air traffic controllers granted permission for a rise to 34,000 feet a few minutes later, they received no response.
Online discussion among pilots has centred on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled.
Investigators are focusing initially on whether the crew took too long to request permission to climb, or could have ascended on their own initiative earlier, said a source close to the inquiry, adding that poor weather could have played a part as well.
A Qantas pilot with 25 years of experience flying in the region said the discovery of the debris field relatively close to the last known radar plot of the plane pointed to an aerodynamic stall, most likely due to bad weather. One possibility is that the plane’s instruments iced up, giving the pilots inaccurate readings.
The Indonesian pilot, a former air force fighter pilot with 6,100 flying hours, was experienced and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, said the airline, which is 49%-owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia.
Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country’s aviation industry and spooked travellers across the region.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing in March on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew and has not been found. On 17 July, the same airline’s flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
On board flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French.
The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002.

Air Asia QZ8501- Bad Weather Hampering Search, 3 more bodies found including Stewardess bringing total 6 bodies recovered.

News / Asia

Bad Weather Complicates Search for AirAsia Victims, Wreckage

  • Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, right, walks beside AirAsia's CEO Tony Fernandes after meeting with family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, Dec. 30, 2014.
VOA News
Bad weather is hampering the search for the victims and wreckage of an AirAsia jet that went down in the Java Sea near the Indonesian island of Borneo.
Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said three more corpses were pulled from the sea Wednesday, bringing the total number of bodies recovered to six.
"Today, this morning, we found and retrieved three bodies - two male and a female wearing a stewardess uniform. As for the details, this is not our job. Up until now, we have recovered six bodies," said Soelistyo.
Soelistyo said waves of up to three meters, strong winds, and heavy rain are preventing helicopters from searching the area. None of the 162 passengers and crew on board the plane have been found alive.
The first trace of the plane was discovered Tuesday, not far from where the Airbus A320 disappeared during a storm en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
Investigators hope to determine the cause of the crash once divers locate and recover the plane's cockpit voice and flight data recorders.
Indonesia's search and rescue agency says sonar images suggest the main body of the plane is lying upside down on the bottom of the sea, which is only 20 to 30 meters deep.
Local television Tuesday showed rescue helicopters pulling bodies from the Java Sea, in the same area where pieces of the plane were found.
Families of the 162 people on board AirAsia Flight 8501 burst into tears and hugged one another after seeing the images of the wreckage and floating bodies, which were not wearing life jackets.
QZ8501 Crash SiteQZ8501 Crash Site
None of the passengers or crew have been found alive.
At a news conference at the Surabaya airport, Widodo offered his condolences Tuesday to the loved ones of those aboard the flight and said his priority was the quick recovery of victims' remains.
"My deep condolences go out to the families of the passengers and crew. I am feeling their loss and pray that they are given all the courage and strength to face this tragedy," Widodo said.
The wife of pilot Iriyanto, who like many Indonesians went by one name, said she was staying strong for the couple's children.
"I'm here for my children and their future, so I must be strong and open with this situation," Widya Sukarti Putri said.
The pilot's father described the experienced airman, who had more than 20,000 flying hours, as a good man.
"He is a patient man, always trusted Allah. His behavior towards his parents as well as to the community around him was good," Soewarto said.
'Absolutely devastated'
Tony Fernandes, the CEO and founder of AirAsia, said he was "absolutely devastated" by the tragedy. Earlier on Twitter, Fernandes said his "heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved," and that "words cannot express how sorry I am."
At least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters from several countries looked for the plane between Borneo and Sumatra islands. The shallowness of the sea, between 40 to 50 meters deep, was expected to aid efforts to recover the aircraft and vital communications data, including the flight recorders. 
Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, head of the Search and Rescue Agency, told reporters that “the challenge is waves up to three meters high” at the site where bodies and debris were found.
The search effort will be bolstered with the arrival of a U.S. Navy warship. The USS Sampson, which was already on deployment in the area, is equipped with sonar devices that can scan underwater. A second ship, the USS Fort Worth, was standing by in Singapore and will head to the crash site if needed.
In Washington, the White House said the United States sent its condolences to the families and loved ones and stood ready to provide Indonesia with all the help it needed.
The passengers aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 included 149 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one each from Britain, Malaysia and Singapore. The crew included six Indonesians and a French co-pilot.
No distress signal
Initial investigation of the crash blamed severe weather for the tragedy.
The twin-engine plane gave no distress signals before disappearing, though pilots had asked permission to fly at a higher altitude to avoid a storm cloud.
Indonesian officials said that permission was not granted because other planes were in the area. The jet was instead approved to fly around the storm.
Hugh Ritchie, chief executive of Sydney-based Aviation Consultants International, told VOA that satellite images highlighted the storm’s ferocity.
“This was pretty ferocious. You are going to have very strong updraft and very strong downdraft — quite sufficient to cause the aircraft to disappear," Ritchie said.
"And while it may not destroy the aircraft, the stress could cause the aircraft to break up in the air. I would assume that icing or a combination of icing and severe turbulence would have caused this accident," he added.
Low-cost airline
The plane was operated by the Indonesian affiliate of AirAsia, a Malaysian-based, low-cost airline that previously had a spotless safety record. The AirAsia group has affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India.   
The airline's troubles continued Tuesday on a smaller scale when a plane from subsidiary AirAsia Zest skidded off a runway in the Philippine city of Kalibo with 159 people aboard. No injuries were reported. 
The accident was the third for a Southeast Asian carrier this year.
In March, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane, which was carrying 239 people, is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia, though no trace of it has been found.
In July, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Western officials believe that plane was shot down by Moscow-backed Ukrainian rebels.
On Wednesday, families of the victims of the latest tragedy were to be flown from Surabaya to Belitung island, located on the east coast of Sumatra, to formally identify victims.

Chaos erupts as relatives of the Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 watched footage on a local TV station which showed a floating body and debris


Published: Wednesday December 31, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday December 31, 2014 MYT 11:32:09 AM

Chaos erupts at airport over TV station footage

SURABAYA: Chaos erupted at Juanda International Airport’s crisis centre here as relatives of the doomed Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 watched footage on a local TV station which showed a floating body and debris sighted by the Indonesian Search and Rescue team (SAR) in Pangkalan Bun, central Kalimantan.
Wailing, screaming and non-stop crying ensued from the distraught and hysterical next-of-kin.

One man covered his face and had to be held up by two other men before he fainted and was taken out by stretcher.
Another woman was screaming and crying as she was supported by the mayor of Surabaya.

“My heart will be totally crushed if it’s true. I will lose a son,” said 60-year-old Dwijanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
An AirAsia officer screamed at a local TV news station for airing the uncensored footage of an unidentified body floating in the water during the live feed.
The crisis centre, which was set up for the relatives, had been calm earlier yesterday amid initial reports that debris resembling an emergency slide, a plane door and a life jacket had been seen. Some even hoped that the debris was not related to the missing plane.
A man believed to be the father of one of the flight attendants, Khairunnisa Haidar Fauzi, 22, from Palembang, said he was willing to accept the fate that had befallen his daughter.
“If it’s true, I am willing to accept the fate. I recited the Yasin last night and I will accept this with open heart,” he said.
Khairunisa was reported to be flying to Singapore for a holiday when the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers 42 minutes after it left Juanda International Airport here on Sunday.
In Malaysia, families of those on MH370 flight that went missing without a trace on March 8 hoped those lost in the latest tragedy could at least have a proper burial.
“The families can now have closure and peace of mind, something I am dying for,” said Selamat Omar, whose 29-year-old son was on the Malaysia Airlines plane.
QZ8501 was flying in Indonesian airspace when it went missing. A total of 162 passengers, including one Malaysian and seven crew members, were on board.
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