Jakarta : An Indonesian warship recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea on Tuesday believed to be passengers from the missing Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501, a navy spokesman said.
“Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing. They are very busy now,” Mr Manahan Simorangkir said.
Earlier, search teams spotted a shadow on the seabed believed to be the missing AirAsia flight, said Indonesia's search and rescue agency chief who was "95 per cent sure" debris found belonged to the plane.
“At 12:50 (local time), the air force Hercules found an object described as a shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a plane,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Barsarnas, told a press conference in Jakarta.
"At 13:25, we spotted a floating object believed to be one of the passengers’ bodies,” he said.
Relatives of the 162 people on the plane burst into tears in Surabaya, where the plane departed from on Sunday, as they watched television footage showing a body floating in the sea during a live telecast of Soelistyo’s press conference.
Soelistyo said the search was being concentrated around 160 km southwest of the town of Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on Borneo island.
"Indonesian air force Bung Tomo vessel found an item floating on surface that we think is a plane's emergency exit door...A Basarnas helicopter flew there to make sure it is a plane's exit door and the chopper helped Bung Tomo vessel evacuate the item,'' he said.
"With all these findings, I am - as a search and rescue coordinator - 95 per cent convinced the location is the debris that came from the plane."
“All elements in the areas and search and rescue personnel will be moved to the location,” he said. “Their job is to find and evacuate all objects or passengers’ bodies.”
He told reporters that divers have been deployed to the area which has a depth of 25 to 30 metres. He said submersible vehicles would be used if there is a need to dive deeper into the sea.
The latest developments came as Indonesian authorities expanded the search operation for the plane.
The Straits Times/LY