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Bodies and wreckage from AirAsia QZ8501 are being retrieved from the sea

AP Photo/Dewi Nurcahyani
Airplane parts and a suitcase are among the items recovered thus far.
By Stefan Constantinescu
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Indonesian search and rescue workers have recovered bodies and debris from AirAsia flight QZ8501, which lost contact with air traffic control on Dec. 28 as it was traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore with 162 people onboard. The wreckage was found in the Karimata Strait, roughly 200 km off the coast of Pangkalan Bun, Indonesia, in water less than 100 ft. deep.

The BBC and other news outlets, citing the head of Indonesia’s search operation, reported that three bodies have been retrieved—not 40, as had been stated in earlier reports that cited naval officials.


“I am absolutely devastated,” AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a company news release. “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.” Contact information for family members can be found on the airline’s website.

No one quite knows why QZ8501 went down. Indonesian officials say 36 minutes after the plane took off, one of the pilots asked to climb to a higher altitude in order to avoid bad weather. Shortly after that decision was made, contact was lost. Based on leaked information, it’s been suggested that the plane stalled and began an unrecoverable descent.

(Map courtesy of flight tracking service Flightradar24.)

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