AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash: Pilot describes seeing victims 'holding hands' in water

Lieutenant Airman Tri Wobowo was among the first to see the debris now confirmed as from the AirAsia flight

Rose Troup Buchanan
Tuesday 30 December 2014 13:45
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An Indonesia's Air Force crewman looks out of the window during a search and rescue operation as they search for the missing AirAsia plane in Indonesia
An Indonesia's Air Force crewman looks out of the window during a search and rescue operation as they search for the missing AirAsia plane in Indonesia

The pilot who discovered the debris from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has said he saw that three of the bodies recovered were holding hands.

Lieutenant Airman Tri Wobowo, who co-piloted the C130 Hercules aircraft that first saw the items of the aircraft off the coast of Borneo earlier today, described the scene that greeted rescuers in the water.

“There are seven to eight people. Three [of them] again hold hands,” he told Indonesian national newspaper Kompas.

As well as the bodies, the pilot reported seeing luggage, buoys and pieces of the aircraft itself – painted the distinctive red, black and white of AirAsia.

Flight QZ8501 disappeared on Sunday en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia. The passenger plane was carrying 162 people at the time of its disappearance, including one Briton.

Indonesian authorities and AirAsia have both confirmed that the wreckage is Flight QZ8501.

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said in a statement: “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.”

The search is expected to continue through the night President Joko Widodo told a press conference, adding that finding passengers and crew members was the first priority.

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