AirAsia crash: Eighth body recovered, bad weather hampers search

Jakarta: Another body from the victims of the crashed AirAsia plane in the Java Sea was recovered Thursday, taking the total number of bodies found till now to eight but bad weather continued to hamper the search operation.

A Malaysian ship involved in evacuation operations recovered a body and luggage believed to be of a victim of AirAsia flight QZ8501 which crashed with 162 on board Sunday, Indonesia's Antara news agency reported.

AirAsia search
Crewmembers of an Indonesian Air Force Super Puma helicopter look out during search operations for victims of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 over the Java Sea on January 1. Pic/AFP

"According to the information we have received from the air force, a body and a luggage were found by a Malaysian ship, and the body was later transferred to a nearby hospital by a chopper of Basarnas (National Search and Rescue Agency)," a police officer of the DVI command post at Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan province said Thursday.

The body arrived at the Regional Public Hospital of Imanuddin in Pangkalan Bun at 11.40 a.m. for preliminary identification. The eight bodies recovered so far have been retrieved from the Java Sea, near Karimata Strait, some 95 nautical miles from Pangkalan Bun, where the plane was believed to have gone down.

The bodies were first taken to Imanuddin Hospital and later transported to Surabaya, the Indonesian city from where the ill-fated flight took off early Sunday morning for Singapore. The plane, an Airbus A320-200, had 162 passengers and crew on board -- 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, a Malaysian, a Singaporean, a British, and a French national.

The plane was believed to have crashed in the East Java Sea located between Sumatra and Kalimantan islands. Bad weather Thursday hampered the search for wreckage and bodies. "Clouds have started to descend again... and the weather conditions will deteriorate again," BBC quoted search and rescue official Tatang Zaenudin as saying.

After four days of search and rescue operations, the joint team led by Basarnas and involving several institutions such as the Indonesia air force, the navy, the police, and foreign ships, have so far discovered some debris, including an emergency exit door and eight bodies.

Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the US, China, India, South Korea, Japan, and Britain have lent assistance in searching for the missing plane and any investigation regarding the accident. Meanwhile, experts have identified one of the bodies fished out from the Java Sea site, saying Thursday they would hand it over to her family soon.

Budiono, head of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), said the victim has been successfully identified to be an Indonesian woman named Hayati Lutfiah Hamid from East Java province, Xinhua reported. "The body will be handed over to the family soon today (Thursday)," he said at the Police Hospital Bhayangkara in Surabaya from where the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off for Singapore early Sunday morning and crashed 42 minutes later.

According to one of Hayati's relatives, the funeral will be carried out in Surabaya city soon after the body is handed over Thursday. Budiono added that the identification work on four other bodies that were brought to the hospital Thursday was going on.

Those bodies were sent to Surabaya by Indonesian military cargo plane for further post-mortem identification before being delivered to families. Experts for identification have also come from South Korea and Singapore to assist in the work, according to the police chief of East Java province, Anas Yunus.

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