Picking Up the Pieces: AirAsia Debris, Bodies Found

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The search and rescue efforts of Indonesian authorities have become a search and recovery with the discovery of debris from AirAsia Flight 8501. The debris included what appears to be an emergency door and at least ten bodies.

[Breaking news update at 5:42 p.m. ET Tuesday, 5:42 a.m. Wednesday in Indonesia]

The search for wreckage from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has resumed. The operation started Wednesday around 5 a.m. local time (5 p.m. ET Tuesday), Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency said.

[Previous story, posted at 4:17 p.m. ET Tuesday, 4:17 a.m. Wednesday in Indonesia]

Anguish as bodies, debris found from AirAsia Flight 8501

(CNN) — A grim discovery in the waters off Indonesia on Tuesday dealt a heartbreaking blow to families whose loved ones were lost on AirAsia Flight QZ8501, and their anguish was felt around the world.

Debris from the plane was spotted 100-200 kilometers (60-120 miles) from the aircraft’s last known location over the Java Sea, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said.

Three bodies were recovered: two women and one man, Indonesian search and rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo told CNN.

“To the relatives, I feel your loss, and all of us pray that all of the families are given the strength and fortitude during this incident,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo told journalists. He then went to meet with families.

“We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances,” said Sunu Widyatmoko, head of AirAsia Indonesia. “We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues.”

“My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501,” AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted. “On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am.”

Later, speaking with reporters, Fernandes said there is now “at least some closure” for families who might have been “holding out hope.”

Hospitals in the Indonesian city of Surabaya are being prepared to help house and identify bodies being recovered off the coast of Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.

As families watched a live news conference about the discovery of the debris and saw video of a helicopter lowering a diver to what appeared to be a floating body, some people fainted. Stretchers were brought into the room.

Family members burst into tears, dabbing their eyes as officials passed out tissues. Some sat with their eyes full of tears, hands covering their mouths or heads buried in their hands. Others had phones jammed against their ears.

“Everyone became hysterical, especially the mothers. One mother even blacked out,” said Maria Endang Wirasmi, whose daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren were on the flight.

Her husband, Imam Sampurno, said he was relieved the plane had been found.

“We hope that our children will be saved by a miracle,” he said.

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