Wreckage has been discovered in Indonesian waters that airline AirAsia believes belongs to flight QZ8501, which went missing late Saturday night.
The debris was discovered near where the plane vanished after requesting permission to fly above bad weather. Multiple search and rescue crews are headed to the spot.
Six bodies have been recovered thus far; according to authorities, those recovered were not wearing life jackets.
The flight was carrying 162 people, comprising 155 passengers, five crew members, and two pilots. The location of wreckage deviates significantly from the disappearance of flight MH370, which vanished without a literal trace last spring.
Below is the statement released by AirAsia Tuesday morning:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th.
The debris of the aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun. The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crews and one engineer.
At the present time, search and rescue operations are still in progress and further investigation of the debris found at the location is still underway. AirAsia Indonesia employees have been sent to the site and will be fully cooperating with BASARNAS, National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), and relevant authorities on the investigation.
Sunu Widyatmoko, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Indonesia said: “We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances. We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues.”
Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia added: “I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501.”
AirAsia Indonesia will be inviting family members to Surabaya, where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met. Counsellors, religious and spiritual personnel have also been invited to the family center to provide any necessary services.
Further information will be released as soon as it becomes available. An emergency call centre has been established and available for families seeking information. Family members of QZ8501, please contact:
Malaysia: +60 3 21795959
Indonesia: +62 2129270811
Singapore: +65 63077688
Korea: 007 98142069940
Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of our passengers and colleagues on board QZ8501.
[h/t ABC News]
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