AirAsia Flight QZ8501: Kin struggle to accept harsh truth

Family members of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 react at a waiting area in Surabaya's Juanda International Airport

SURABAYA - Raising their hands in the air and closing their eyes, dozens of grieving relatives sang yesterday of their "surrender" to God, wiping away tears as they struggled to come to terms with the loss of loved ones on Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

They prayed and listened to a priest who gave them words of encouragement in their grief, a day after the discovery of debris and some bodies extinguished their hopes.

"Our God is not evil. One day slowly we will understand. Something beautiful can still come out of this," the priest told them.

"There are many tests in this world. We must keep our faith in Jesus."

They then sang hymns accompanied by a guitar. Some broke down and had to be comforted while others wiped away tears and sang even louder.

More than 50 had gathered for the brief mass at the crisis centre in Surabaya.

As exhausted relatives prayed and awaited news about the victims, others started to prepare funerals for loved ones.

In contrast with hysterical scenes a day earlier, they appeared resigned to the fact that their loved ones did not survive.

Widjaja, 60, was already preparing a Muslim funeral for his son Andreas and daughter-in-law Enny Wahyuni.

"If they really cannot find them, I will scatter flowers in the sea here as a way to say goodbye."

"I am Catholic but my son is Muslim so I have prepared a Muslim funeral for him," he said. "I am so sad that he's gone but this is the will of God," he said.

Aris Siswanto, 41, whose wife of six years - Susiyah, 40 - was on the plane, was one of five family representatives aboard a military aircraft on Tuesday which found some wreckage and a body.

"I spotted the debris and my heart beat really fast. And then I saw the floating body. Those were clear signs my wife was no more in this world. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing," he said, weeping as he spoke of his wife, a babysitter who was travelling to Singapore with her Indonesian employers and their two-year-old.

"I miss her and it hurts. She was a good woman, a little firm but very faithful. We never fought a day since we got married six years ago," he said.