Rescue crews scouring the waters off Indonesia say they have found dozens of bodies and have spotted wreckage that belongs to AirAsia QZ8501, the jetliner that went missing Sunday, carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. quotes an Indonesian navy spokesman:
” ‘Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing,’ Manahan Simorangkir said.
” ‘They are very busy, now.’
“An Indonesian air force plane spotted items resembling an emergency slide, plane door and other objects in the search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 today.”
In a statement, AirAsia said the National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia confirmed the wreckage belonged to the airplane.
NBC News reports that Indonesia’s president and the head of AirAsia were headed to Surabaya, Indonesia, to meet with relatives.
“As grisly images of floating bodies were broadcast on television screens where the families were gathered, relatives sobbed and buried their heads in their hands,” NBC News reports. “Some collapsed and required medical treatment.”
Update at 9:32 a.m. ET. Massive Recovery Operation:
Indonesian President Joko Widodo says the focus for search and rescue teams is now on recovering bodies.
Antara News, an Indonesian wire service, reports that Widodo said he had surveyed the debris field himself and saw that the waves were strong and it was foggy.
The news service adds:
“According to the president, three Indonesian ships are on standby at the site and several others are on their way to locate more debris of QZ8501.
“Jokowi further noted that several ships and helicopters will hold massive search operations on Wednesday morning (December 31), as well.
“‘I have ordered the Basarnas to hold joint operations to find the fuselage, as well as the passengers and crew members,’ Jokowi affirmed.”