Three bodies recovered from AirAsia wreckage

162 people were on board the flight which went missing on Sunday.

Indonesia Plane Dita Alangkara Dita Alangkara

INDONESIA’S NATIONAL SEARCH and Rescue Agency chief says that just three bodies had been recovered so far in the search for the AirAsia plane which crashed in the Java Sea, after another official said 40 had been found.

“Today we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo,” Bambang Soelistyo told a news conference in Jakarta, adding that they were two females and one male.

Navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir told AFP earlier that according to naval radio a warship had recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea. But he later said that report was a miscommunication by his staff.

The Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 people crashed Sunday en route from Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya to Singapore, with wreckage recovered near its last known location.

Earlier, searchers had spotted items resembling an emergency slide and plane door in the sea as they hunted for traces of an AirAsia passenger jet that vanished in a storm.

More than 48 hours after the Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 people disappeared en route from Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya to Singapore, it appeared to be the most concrete clue yet to the plane’s fate after several false leads, as desperate relatives await news of their loved ones.

An AFP photographer on the search plane that spotted the possible debris said he had seen objects in the sea resembling a life raft, life jackets and long orange tubes as they flew just 500 feet (150 metres) above the water.

Indonesian air force official Agus Dwi Putranto told reporters: “We spotted about 10 big objects and many more small white-coloured objects which we could not photograph.”

“The position is 10 kilometres (six miles) from the location the plane was last captured by radar,” he said.

Putranto displayed 10 photos of objects resembling a plane door, emergency slide, and a square box-like object.

PastedImage-23875 Debris believed to be the emergency slide from the doomed AirAsia

“It is not really clear… it could be the wall of the plane or the door of the plane,” he said.

“Let’s pray that those objects are what we are really trying to find,” he said in Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo.

The search has focused on waters around the islands of Bangka and Belitung in the Java Sea, across from Kalimantan.

Indonesia Plane AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Putranto said a helicopter was heading to the location 190 kilometres from Pangkalan Bun and if the debris is confirmed to be from the plane, search and rescue ships would be sent out.

Indonesian officials appear to have been preparing for the worst, with National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief Bambang Soelistyo saying Monday it was likely the plane was at “the bottom of the sea”, based on its estimated position.

Indonesia Plane AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The plane lost contact early on Sunday about 40 minutes after takeoff, after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.

News of the apparent debris came after Basarnas said it had expanded the search to cover 156,000 square kilometres (60,000 square miles).

© – AFP 2014

First published 08.15am. Reporting from AP

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