Bad weather is hampering rescue efforts in Indonesia after the crash site of Air Asia flight QZ8501 was located. The plane was en route to Singapore from Surabaya, the capital of the country's East Java Province, when it lost contact with air traffic controllers December 28. It was carrying 162 passengers and crew members.
Aviation experts have speculated that the pilot managed to avoid a thick rainstorm cloud and land the plane on water. However, there is a likelihood that during the emergency landing strong waves hit the floating aircraft and pushed it underwater. An investigation to determine the real cause of the accident is expected to start soon.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla are supervising the search and rescue mission closely. Several countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, France, Australia, and the United States have joined in to step up the rescue efforts.
Towards the end of the second day of search efforts, several dead bodies and aircraft parts were found floating in the sea near Central Kalimantan. Some of the bodies were flown to Surabaya for autopsy.
On Facebook, Indonesian President Joko Widodo wrote:
Saya mendengarkan penjelasan dari saudara Tony Fernandez, pemilik maskapai penerbangan Air Asia, ditengah rasa duka mendalam ketika ditemukan serpihan-serpihan pesawat di sekitar perairan Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah.
Ditengah perasaan duka saya memberikan aspirasi tinggi pada kerja tim yang tergabung dalam pencarian pesawat Air Asia QZ 8501, menemukan dengan cepat serpihan pesawat sehingga memberikan kepastian atas apa yang terjadi pada pesawat itu.
Kepada keluarga korban saya menyampaikan bela sungkawa yang sebesar-besarnya atas musibah yang menimpa. Mari kita berdoa agar keluarga korban diberikan kekuatan dan ketabahan dalam menghadapi cobaan hidup ini.
I'm listening to the explanation of Toni Fernandez, CEO of Air Asia, in the midst of profound grief as aircraft parts are found in the waters of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. In deep sadness, I hope that the joint search and rescue team will succeed in gathering more airplane parts to determine the cause of accident. To the family of the victims, I extend my deepest condolences. Let us pray that (the Almighty will give) each one of the family members strength during this trying time.
President Jokowi on board the search and rescue plane when it first spotted aircraft parts.
Air Asia meanwhile confirmed that the plane debris and the dead bodies are from flight QZ8501:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th.
Messages of sympathy and condolences were sent via Twitter.
— Shafiq✌Pontoh (@ShafiqPontoh) December 30, 2014
Duka di ujung Tahun 2014, bagi keluarga korban pesawat AirAsia QZ8501 slalu diberikan keikhlasan dan ketabahan. Berharap masih ada keajaiban — Phia Yow Phia (@tentangphia) December 31, 2014
Sadness at the end of 2014, to all families of Air Asia QZ8501 victims, may courage and strength be given to you. Let's hope for a miracle.
— Yenni Kwok (@yennikwok) December 31, 2014
The Twitter hashtag #togetherwestand is being used to show solidarity to friends and relatives of all those on board QZ8501.