QZ8501 LIVE UPDATES DAY 3: AirAsia, rescue team confirm that debris is from missing plane

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UPDATE (11.35PM): AirAsia crash probe to focus on timing of request to climb, weather

Investigators are focusing on the timing of the crew’s request to climb to a higher altitude to avoid bad weather as a possible factor behind the tragedy, a source close to the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 probe said.

The investigation into what happened on Sunday, when the aircraft carrying 162 people disappeared from radars, has only just begun.

Read the story here.

UPDATE (10.15PM): Video of Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia, addressing the media



UPDATE (10.09PM): Only three bodies recovered, not 40, says search agency chief

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief said on Tuesday that just three bodies had been recovered so far in the search for the AirAsia flight QZ8501 plane which crashed in the Java Sea.

"Today (Tuesday) we evacuated three bodies and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo," Mr F.H. Bambang Soelistyo said at 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 the report was a miscommunication by his staff.

Source: AFP

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (left) and Mr F.H. Bambang Soelistyo (right), the head of Indonesia's national search and rescue agency. Photo: AFP

UPDATE (9.57PM): Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee will be leading investigations





UPDATE (9.15PM): Malaysia Airlines has offered their condolences to AirAsia and the family members of all the passengers on the flight QZ8501





UPDATE (9.13PM): Some reports of statements by Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia.







UPDATE (9.05PM): AirAsia tweets a statement saying it is grieving over the latest news.



UPDATE (8.30PM): Indonesian president Joko Widodo speaks at press conference

Jokowi expressed his condolences to families of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501. 

He also expressed his gratitude to all countries who offered help in the search operations.

UPDATE (8.10PM): Channel News Asia has reported that Basarnas will continue the search tonight if weather permits

The 2 to 3 metre waves pose a problem and may hinder the search and rescue operation. If they do continue, they will continue with floodlights.

Basarnas has said that they are not authorised to retrieve the black box. Only those authorised may handle the black box.




UPDATE (7.54PM): Search and rescue team "100%" confirm debris is from AirAsia QZ8501

UPDATE (7.45PM): AirAsia has confirmed debris is from AirAsia QZ8501

They have confirmed that the debris is from AirAsia flight QZ8501 and that search and rescue operations are still ongoing at this moment.

Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia added: “I am absolutely devastated. 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.” 

UPDATE (7.11PM): Indonesians lay flowers, tributes in East Java


UPDATE (6.50PM): Cargo of plane has been found reported that the cargo of the plane has been found. The condition of the cargo is at 65 per cent.

UPDATE (6.35PM): Debris found, but main aircraft body still not found reported that the Indonesia Air Force has found lots of aircraft debris and bodies of passengers, but has yet to find the main body of the aircraft.

"Main body yet to be seen, we have not seen at all," said Kapuspen Air Force, air commodore Hadi Tjahjanto at Halim Air Base, East Jakarta, on Tuesday.

UPDATE (6.30PM): Bodies will be taken to Surabaya

The bodies of passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 found in waters near Pangkalan Bun will be taken to Surabaya, reported

Chief of Police Medical Center (Kapusdokes) Police Brigadier General Arthur Tampi said on Tuesday: "Even though it was close to Borneo, the bodies were evacuated to Surabaya."

Read full story here.

Search and rescue workers preparing to load body bags onto a flight to Kalimantan. Photo: Reuters

UPDATE (5.34PM): AFP has reported that more than 40 bodies have been retrieved.

UPDATE (5.02PM): Changi Airport is working with AirAsia to provide travel arrangements for the Next-of-kin.



UPDATE (4.54PM): President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo is on his way to Surabaya airport.


UPDATE (4.35PM): Search and rescue teams are leaving for Pangkalan Bun.

UPDATE (4.30PM):  Family members at Juanda Airport in Surabaya react after watching news reports showing an unidentified body floating in the Java sea.

Photos: AFP

UPDATE (4.24PM): Basarnas chief Bambang Soelistyo said that Indonesian airforce Hercules spotted a shadow underwater on the seabed - believed to be the shape of the AirAsia aircraft.

UPDATE (4.11PM): AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes reacts to news of debris of AirAsia plane being found




UPDATE (4.10PM):  Family members at Juanda Airport in Surabaya react upon hearing the news of debris being found.

Photos: AFP

UPDATE (4PM): Basarnas says that three bodies have been found. 


UPDATE (3.50PM): One of the pieces of debris confirmed to be emergency exit door. Object spotted floating in water resembling body.

UPDATE (3.40PM): Basarnas strongly believes that the debris at the location belongs to the AirAsia plane.

UPDATE (3.34PM): Basarnas to hold press conference soon.


UPDATE (3.16PM): The Straits Times is reporting that Indonesian Navy is checking to see if there are people still alive.

Indonesia's director general of civil aviation Djoko Murjatmodjo told AFP that the debris is confirmed to be from a plane.


UPDATE (3.01PM): Indonesian transport ministry will confirm if debris is indeed from the AirAsia plane in 30 minutes.

UPDATE (2.46PM) Kompas TV reports that families awaiting news at Juanda airport at Surabaya have been told that debris from the AirAsia plane has been found. However, authorities are still in the midst of verification.

While no details have been confirmed, families are bracing for the worst

UPDATE (2.25PM) Indonesia's transport ministry strongly believes debris is from AirAsia QZ8501 flight

UPDATE (2PM) More pictures of debris floating in search area

Photos: AFP

This aerial view taken from an Indonesian search and rescue aircraft over the Java Sea shows floating debris spotted in the same area as other items being investigated by Indonesian authorities as possible objects from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501


UPDATE (1.30PM) Items resembling emergency slide, plane door have been seen in search area for AirAsia flight QZ8501, reports AFP

KompasTV is reporting that the debris is 2m long. 

The search team is trying to verify where the debris is from. Read more here. 

UPDATE (1.00PM) The Straits Times and Channel News Asia have reported that AirAsia will be chartering a flight for family members to the search area so that they can pray for their missing family members.

The A320 flight, which was requested by family members, will carry 180 passengers to the search area.

The search area will also be expanded to include more of the surrounding islands.


UPDATE (12PM): Singapore's RSS Persistence expected to reach search area by 3pm

TNP's photojournalist Ariffin Jamar, who is on board the RSS Persistence that is assisting with the search, is expected to reach the search zone this afternoon.

He writes on the TNP blog

Seas are getting more rough. I'm told waters are at Sea State 4. That means waves are up to 2.5m. Sea State measures surface conditions of the water. Highest level is Sea State 9 - over 14m. 

Not much sleep last night as it was Sea State 3 (up to 1.25m). Sea sickness plus sound of anchor banging on the kept me awake.

Data connection not great. Pictures to come.


UPDATE (11.57AM): While AirAsia was starting to fit tracking technology on their planes, AirAsia flight QZ8501 had not been upgraded yet.  

Wall Street Journal reported that AirAsia had begun implementing satellite communications on some of its short-haul flights earlier this year.

British satellite communications company Inmarsat said that QZ8501 was not yet modified. 

The technology allows planes to provide position updates every two minutes. 


UPDATE (11.49AM): Emergency signals, thought to belong to QZ8501, are false alarms

Indonesia says that the two emergency signals picked up during the search for the missing flight do not belong to QZ8501.

Mr F.H. Banbang Soelistyo, chief of the search and rescue agency Basarnas said: "We have AirAsia ELT (emergency locator transmitter) ID. I assure you the two emergency signals reported to us were not what we're looking for."


UPDATE (11.06AM): More countries to join search for QZ8501

More countries will join the international search efforts for the missing AirAsia QZ8501 flight.

China is sending a Navy frigate to the waters of the search zone, South Korea is also pitching in.

Seoul's foreign ministry said that it is sending a surveillance plane to join the Indonesia-led search operation.

The aircraft is expected to arrive later on Tuesday. It had already been in talks with six countries to get approval for the plane to pass into Indonesia airspace.

In addition, aircraft from Thailand will also join the operation today.

Meanwhile, the USS Sampson (below), a guided missile destroyed based in the Western Pacific, will arrive in the search area near Belitung later today. 

Detik reported that the total search area is about 156,000 sq km.

Sources: Xinhua, Detik


UPDATE (9AM): Reports of smoke coming from an island are being investigated. Two Cessna planes sent. reports that two Cessna planes have been sent out to investigate reports of smoke seen coming from Long Island, inside the search zone.

Mr F.H. Bambang Soelistyo, director of Indonesia's search and operations team (Basarnas) confirmed these reports as the search for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 continues this morning.

While the Java Sea - between the islands of Sumatra and Borneo - has been the main focus of the search, Mr Soelistyo said that operations will now expand to land, including "the western part of West Kalimantan province".

The US Navy has also joined the multi-nation operation. It is sending a destroyer, the USS Samson, which is expected to arrive at the search area later today.

Detik also reports that the third day of the search is expected to be hampered by poor visibility caused by drizzle and dark clouds.

Source: Reuters, Detik, CBS News

Related reports: QZ8501 LIVE UPDATES DAY 2: Search for missing Air Asia plane resumes