Last photo from doomed AirAsia flight: Victim pictured smiling in selfie before take-off

Hendra Gunawan Syawal was on a New Year break to Singapore

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The Independent Online

A photo taken by a passenger on the doomed AirAsia flight QZ8501 as the plane sat on the runway before take-off has provided a window into the last hour of the plane’s passengers’ lives.

The selfie, taken by Hendra Gunawan Syawal, 23, shows the photographer smiling with friends in the cabin as the plane readied itself for take off from Surabaya airport in Indonesia.

Mr Syawal was going on a New Year break to Singapore with his friends and is shown sitting in his seat. The picture was sent to a friend before take-off and is the last known picture of passengers aboard the flight.

Yunita Syawal, the man’s brother, said she first feared her brother was on the flight after being forwarded the selfie.

“He would always inform me before travelling anywhere. But the strangest thing was, when we spoke the previous night, he did not mention about going to Singapore,” she told the AFP news agency.

Search teams have so far recovered 37 bodies from the wreckage of the ill-fated plane, much of which has been scattered for miles around the presumed crash site by ocean currents and bad weather.

Earlier today the daughter of the plane’s pilot appeared on Indonesian national television station TV One to defend her father’s memory.

airasia-pilot.png"He is just a victim and has not been found yet. My family is now mourning," she said. She released a picture of her posing with him on social media.

There are reports that the plane’s tail section has been found by an Indonesian navy patrol vessel, which would mean the flight’s black box recorder would be likely to be recovered.


Access to the black box recorder would hopefully shed light on the final moments of the flight and the circumstances of its crash, which remain shrouded in mystery.

Four "large objects" that are believed to be part of the wreckage of AirAsia flight QZ8501 have been detected on the ocean floor, officials said yesterday.

It also emerged this weekend that the plane did not have the authorisation to fly the route it was taking between the two cities on the day it crashed, leading to a suspension of AirAsia services between the two cities.