AirAsia flight QZ8501: Families of victims 'evicted from their hotel on New Year's Eve'

The relatives say the airline gave them assurances they would be able to stay until Thursday

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Families of the passengers on board the crashed AirAsia flight were reportedly evicted from their hotel rooms without warning on New Year’s Eve, despite apparent assurances from the airline.

According to the Straits Times, the Indonesian relatives of those killed were moved from a hotel near Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, where the flight took off from.

A family member reportedly told local media AirAsia had said they would be able to stay at the Hotal Halogen until Thursday, and were shocked to return to find their luggage outside their rooms.

Earlier at a press conference the AirAsia Indonesia boss Sunu Widiatmoko had admitted that rooms were hard to find on New Year’s Eve, while the hotel reportedly said they had been fully booked and that the airline had sanctioned the move.

It came as search crews continued to struggle against bad weather in their bid to recover the bodies of the victims from the Java Sea.

Officials said the focus now is on “finding the body of the plane”, Indonesia air force spokesman Rear Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said. It is thought the majority of the victims’ remains could still be trapped in the jet’s fuselage.

It is still unclear what brought the jet down about halfway into its two-hour flight from Surabaya to Singapore, though its last communication indicated the pilots were worried about bad weather.

They sought permission from air traffic controllers to climb above threatening clouds, but were initially denied due to traffic. Four minutes later, the airliner disappeared from radar without issuing a distress signal.