AirAsia QZ8501: Daunting task of identifying bodies

AirAsia QZ8501: Daunting task of identifying bodies

PETALING JAYA - As search teams race against time and bad weather to locate the black boxes of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, the other daunting task has been to recover and identify the victims' remains.

Only one body has so far been officially identified - that of Indonesian Hayati Lutfiah Hamid from Sidoharjo, East Java.

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) East Java head Budiyono said this was confirmed after a post-mortem.

"We managed to match her identity based on her fingerprints and personal belongings," he said, adding that her remains have been handed over to the family. Hayati was buried at a Muslim cemetery in Surabaya yesterday.

She had travelling to Singapore with her 10-year-old daughter, her husband Djoko Suseno and her mother-in-law.

There were reports that a second body - that of a man - had also been identified but the DVI team could not do so as the data provided by family members did not match the victim.

Budiyono said the dead man had long hair, with a mole on his left lip and was about 145cm to 150cm in height.


Meanwhile, other reports claimed that another two victims, Kevin Alexander Soetjipto and stewardess Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, had also been identified.

Nine remains have been retrieved from the sea since aircraft debris and bags were spotted in an area in the Karimata Strait off Kalimantan since Tuesday, with six of the bodies already in Surabaya where the identification process will be carried out.

Yesterday, two bodies were found during a recovery operation which was hampered by poor weather and waves as high as four metres.

Bad weather and the tumultuous sea are also causing further delay in locating the black boxes with aviation officials saying it could take at least a week to locate the flight recorders.

It was reported that sonar had detected a large object on the ocean floor about 30m to 50m deep, and rescue personnel believe it is the Airbus A320-200 that crashed while flying to Singapore from Surabaya on the morning of Dec 28.

"I am hoping that the latest information is correct and aircraft has been found. Please all hope together. This is so important," AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes tweeted.

A team of 47 Indonesian Navy divers are on standby but they are waiting for confirmation that the object spotted is actually the aircraft since no tell-tale "pings" have been detected.

Frogman commander Lt Edi Tirkayasa said the weather was making the operation extra hard.

"What is most difficult is finding the location where the plane fell - checking whether the aircraft is really there," he said.

Investigators examining radar data showed the aircraft had made an "unbelievably" steep climb, possibly pushing it beyond the plane's limit and are working on a theory that it had stalled as it made the sharp ascent.

"So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft," sources familiar with the investigation said.

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