An AirAsia jet with 162 people on board crashed Sunday morning while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore on a scheduled two-hour flight. Here’s a look at the latest developments:
BODIES AND DEBRIS FOUND
After searching for two days, searchers on Tuesday found bodies and debris floating in waters about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from land and 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Flight 8501’s last known coordinates.
Searchers discovered what appeared to be a life jacket and an emergency exit door. Part of the plane’s interior, including an oxygen tank, was brought to the nearest town, along with a suitcase that appeared to be in perfect condition.
Several corpses were spotted off Borneo island. Search and rescue teams were lowered on ropes from a hovering helicopter to retrieve the corpses, their efforts hindered by 2-meter-high (6-foot-high) waves and strong winds. They were recovered, swollen but intact, and taken to an Indonesian navy ship
Television coverage of the discovery sent a spasm of pain through the room at the Surabaya airport where relatives were waiting for news, especially as it showed a half-naked man floating in the water, a shirt partially covering his head.Many screamed and wailed uncontrollably, breaking down into tears while they squeezed each other. One middle-aged man collapsed and had to be carried out on a stretcher.
Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, AirAsia’s chief and the face of the company, tweeted Tuesday: “My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am.” By evening, he had flown back to Surabaya to meet passengers’ families.
Fernandes is a vocal leader who enjoys interacting with the public at airports and on social media. AirAsia passengers often tweet him photos of their vacations, images Fernandes then shares with his followers.
Several countries are helping Indonesia retrieve the wreckage and the passengers.
The United States on Tuesday announced it was sending the USS Sampson destroyer, joining at least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters in the search for the jet, said Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo.
A Chinese frigate was also on the way, while Singapore said it was sending two underwater beacon detectors to try to detect pings from the plane’s all-important cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Malaysia, Australia and Thailand also are involved in the search.
AIR ASIA PLANE OVERSHOOTS RUNWAY
An AirAsia Zest plane carrying 159 people overshot the runway and got stuck in a muddy field Tuesday at an international airport in the central Philippine resort town of Kalibo in Aklan province after landing from Manila in windy weather, officials said. There were no reports of injuries.
The incident came two days after an AirAsia Zest plane developed a tire problem in the central Philippine city of Tagbilaran while its 184 passengers and crew were boarding, prompting the airline to cancel the flight to Manila. No reason was given for the problem.
AirAsia Zest is partly owned by AirAsia Philippines.