AirAsia QZ8501: Families tell cops to return bodies without media coverage

AirAsia QZ8501: Families tell cops to return bodies without media coverage
Somber procession: Caskets containing the remains of passengers from Air Asia QZ8501 are carried into an Indonesian Military (TNI) cargo plane for transport to Surabaya, East Java, from Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

Following requests from the families of those on ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501, police will not allow media to cover the transfer of bodies identified by its Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team.

East Java Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono announced on Saturday that the press would no longer be permitted to cover such transfers, as happened with the first four bodies.

"We plead with our journalist friends: There's no need for the transfer to be covered. The families have objected. This is a private matter, let's respect this," Awi told reporters on Saturday.

The spokesman said the objections were mainly aimed at live television coverage.

On Saturday in Surabaya, the bodies of two more victims - The Meiji Thejakusuma, a 44-year-old woman from Kupang Indah, and Hendra Gunawan Syawal, a 23-year-old man from Bubutan - were returned to families without a ceremony.

"In both cases, we have a match between ante mortem and post mortem data," Awi said.

Six bodies have been returned to families as of Saturday, seven days after contact with the plane, which was en route from Surabaya to Singapore, was lost.

Separately, 12 more bodies arrived at Bhayangkara Hospital for identification on Saturday, flown in from Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, where bodies and debris found at the crash site in the Karimata Strait have been taken.

A total of 30 bodies have been flown to the hospital, including the six returned to families. Awi said two more bodies would soon be returned to families, with two others at the final stage of identification. The rest were still undergoing identification.

Awi said the police were collecting DNA data from victims' families.

East Java forensic team member Sr. Comr. Hery Wijayatmoko said the team was relying on DNA data.

"After being in the water for [seven days, it's difficult to obtain fingerprints]," Hery said.

He said that the bodies were first labelled and separated based on gender and nationality.

The latter stages involved examining the bodies for post mortem data, including dental documentation, property found on the bodies, as well as fingerprints and DNA data.

"It's not easy, but we have many experts on the team to help speed up the process," he said.

A number of forensic experts have joined the team, including those from Brawijaya University in Malang, East Java; Gajah Mada Univeristy in Yogyakarta and the University of Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta.

UI forensic expert Budi Sampurna said that police would autopsy the bodies of the pilot, co-pilot and some of the passengers for their investigation.

"Not all the passengers' bodies will be subject to autopsy. We're taking only a sample, because not all the families approve [of this method]," Budi said.

Earlier on Friday, hundreds of family members of pilot Iriyanto gathered at his parents' home in Sleman, Yogyakarta, to pray.

"The family prays that God will give Iriyanto help and goodness," said Iriyanto's cousin Daru Lalito Wistoro.

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