AirAsia QZ8501: Body of first victim found returned to relatives

AirAsia QZ8501: Body of first victim found returned to relatives
The mother (C) and family members of Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, first identified victim of the ill-fated Malaysian air carrier AirAsia flight QZ8501, breakdown upon receiving her remains at the police hospital in Surabaya on January 1, 2015.

The first body to be recovered from Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 in the Karimata Strait on Tuesday was officially identified and handed over to relatives at the East Java police district's Bhayangkara hospital yesterday afternoon.

As dark clouds loomed overhead, a short Muslim prayer was said at a sombre ceremony to return the body of passenger Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, a 47-year-old teacher from Mojokerto.

Relatives wiped away tears under the glare of cameras. Police carried the brown coffin with flowers on top to an ambulance.

Among those present were Indonesia AirAsia chief executive Sunu Widyatmoko, Indonesian rescue agency Surabaya chief Hernanto, East Java police chief Anas Yusuf and Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini.

"She was identified based on the properties found on her, such as her identity card, as well as bracelet and necklace that had her initials," said Colonel Dr Budiyono, head of the East Java police district medical and health services. She was also identified through her fingerprints and surgical scars.

Ms Hayati's family took her body back to their home near the hospital for prayers before leaving for the cemetery in the rain. She was buried by 7.30pm local time.

Ms Hayati is thought to have been going on a holiday to Singapore with husband Djoko Suseno, daughter Naura Kanita Rosada and mother- in-law Soemamik Saeran.

The hospital's forensic team also concluded a post-mortem on the other body that arrived on Wednesday night, Dr Budiyono said, though the man had not been identified. He was about 1.5m in height with 6cm-long black hair and a birthmark.

At around 12.30pm yesterday, four other bodies arrived at the hospital under police escort for identification. At around 8.30pm, two more bodies - both female - arrived via military plane in Surabaya, before being taken to the hospital, where cold storage containers have been set up to hold up to 150 bodies.

Relatives continued to wait anxiously for information behind the closed doors of the crisis centre set up in the hospital compound.

A liaison team from the Singapore police is believed to have arrived there to provide assistance to the family of two-year-old Zoe Choi, the only Singaporean on the flight. She was travelling with her British father, Mr Choi Chi Man.

This article was first published on January 2, 2015.
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