SURABAYA, 31 Dec. 2014. The National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) Republic of Indonesia and AirAsia officials have confirmed that floating debris found yesterday is, in fact, linked to AirAsia Flight 8501 (QZ8501). Seven bodies—those of four males and three females, including one flight attendant—have been recovered so far; two have been delivered to Surabaya's Juanda airport, where a tent has been erected for obtaining DNA samples and other information to assist in the indentification of the 162 people lost in the crash.
BASARNAS and other relevant authorities continue to search and recover the passengers of QZ8501 in the Karimata Strait area.
Preliminary radar data indicates that the AirAsia jetliner, a six-year-old Airbus A320 aircraft, made a very steep climb before plunging into the ocean; initial assumptions, based on what is being called an “unbelievably high” rate of climb pushed the commercial passenger jet beyond its operational limits. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, commonly referred to as “black boxes,” have yet to be recovered from the crash; information gleaned from both devices will help authorities confirm whether the current radar data is accurate, helping to solve the mystery as to why the plane went down.
Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia, and AirAsia management visited the military base in Pangkalan Bun to meet with key stakeholders of the search-and-rescue (SAR) operations. Fernandes met with Deputy Governor of Central Kalimantan, Achmad Diran; Deputy of Potential Search And Rescue (SAR), Marsekal Muda TNI Sunarbowo Sandi; Joint Operation Chief Territory II, Marsekal Muda TNI Abdul Muis; Joint Operation Chief Territory I, Marsekal Muda TNI Agus Dwi Putranto; Central Kalimantan Police Chief, Brigadier General Hermanu; and Deputy of Operation Search And Rescue (SAR), Marsekal Pertama TNI Supriyadi.
“I continue to be humbled and touched by the incredible efforts and professionalism put forth by BASARNAS, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Police of Indonesia. The search and rescue operations were unfortunately hampered by bad weather but I am hopeful they will be able to resume the search tomorrow,” Fernandas says.
To date, BASARNAS has confirmed to have recovered a total of seven remains, which were transported to the military base in Pangkalan Bun, Borneo. Two of the seven remains were transported to Bayangkara Hospital in Surabaya for identification by Disaster Victim Identification of Police Department Republic of Indonesia (DVI POLRI), and then flown to the airport.
The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) confirmed that debris found 30 Dec. 2014 is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28 Dec. 2014.
On 30 Dec., search-and-rescue professionals discovered remains, including aircraft parts, luggage, and bodies. The debris was found in the Karimata Strait, roughly 110 nautical miles southwest from Pangkalan Bun. Hours after the first debris and a shadow under the water were spotted, Indonesian President Joko Widodo called for a "massive search by the ships and helicopters" with the focus on recovering the bodies.
“I am absolutely devastated,” Fernandes said of the findings. “This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501.”