Najib leads Malaysians in expressing condolences

KUALA LUMPUR - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

"On behalf of the Malaysian Govern­­­ment, I wish to convey my profound sadness and heartfelt condolences to the families of the passengers and crew aboard the flight.

"I hope that search efforts continue in case there are survivors. If there are no survivors, I hope that the families stay strong in the course of this trying time," the Prime Minister said at the launch of the Wanita Umno/BN Flood Cleanup Squad.

He later tweeted: "On behalf of all Malaysians, I extend my deepest condolences to the families of those on Indonesia AirAsia QZ8501. We share your sorrow."

In Temerloh, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the search for Indonesia AirAsia plane has now turned into a recovery mission.

Speaking to reporters, he said search parameters for the plane have changed now that bodies from the doomed aircraft have been found.

"It's now a recovery plan. (The question is) how we can recover the whole wreckage."

He alluded to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and said the recovery of the AirAsia aircraft would be a massive task and that a deep sea search would have to take place.

"(It'll be) like what we've done in the southern Indian Ocean with side scan sonar and cameras moving into the deep sea," he said.

MH370 has not been found despite a multinational search since March this year.

Liow said the Royal Malaysian Navy vessel KD Lekir may now have to use its helicopter (the only one of the three vessels now deployed there able to do so) to recover possible bodies floating in the Java Sea.

Asked if he would be going to Indonesia, Liow said he and the Prime Minister were both committed to assisting Indonesia.

As for the sole Malaysian QZ8501 passenger Sii Ching Huei, he said the Government would check with his family to see what their needs were.

Earlier in a statement, Liow offered his condolences following the discovery of bodies.

"Malaysia stands in solidarity with the families of those on board and offers our deepest condolences."

He also tweeted: "Deeply saddened by the news. Our thoughts & prayers go to the families of those onboard #QZ8501.

"Malaysia will continue to support and offer any assistance required by the Indonesian Government."

An outpouring of grief on social media greeted the discovery of the bodies.

Twitter user @emeeleer hoped that all involved in the tragedy would rest in peace.

Maira Elizabeth Nari, the daughter of Flight MH370 head steward Andrew Nari, could not imagine the anguish faced by the Flight QZ8501 families.

"I am truly sorry for all your loss. God is great, please stay strong."

As condolences and well wishes flooded the microblogging platform, some reprimanded the insensitive sharing practices of other users.

From his @chutneyoverrice account, Joshua Ligan asked others to stop tweeting photos of dead bodies used in television broadcasts. "Give the dead of flight #QZ8501 and those who mourn proper respect," he said.