Recovery teams are launching a "massive search" in the Java Sea for victims of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash, as investigators look for the plane's crucial data recorders.


Indonesian officials have confirmed that remains and debris found in the waters off Borneo are from the plane.

Three bodies were found on Tuesday, the Indonesian authorities have confirmed.

The Airbus A320-200, carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday.

Crews on aircraft and ships are setting off to scan the sea as day breaks.

President Joko Widodo promised a "massive search by the ships and helicopters" with the focus on recovering the bodies of victims.

"I also feel the loss from this tragedy and we all pray for the families to be given fortitude and strength," he said, speaking in Surabaya.

Singapore has sent ships equipped with sensors to detect pings that may be emitted from the plane's black boxes.

Malaysia, Australia and Thailand are also involved in the search. The US destroyer USS Sampson has been sent to the zone.

Confusion over numbers

The figure of three was announced by the head of the search operation, Bambang Soelistyo.

"I know the plane has crashed but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead," Ifan Joko told the Associated Press news agency. He said he had lost seven relatives, three of them children, as they travelled to Singapore to celebrate the New Year.

Tributes have been paid to the pilot, Captain Iriyanto, an Indonesian national described as an experienced airman.

Friends described him as "professional and humble".

AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes said earlier support would be offered to the families of victims and search teams would work for a "speedy conclusion".

"It is a horrible, horrible experience but we will try and do our best," he said. "That's our focus right now.

Worst possible news

The first debris from the plane was spotted on Tuesday. Pictures of debris and bodies were shown on Indonesian TV.

Relatives of passengers on the plane watching the pictures were visibly shocked, with some collapsing.

An AirAsia statement on Tuesday said the remains were found in the Karimata Strait, south-west of Pangkalan Bun in the Borneo province of Central Kalimantan.

Bambang Soelistyo said a shadow had been spotted under the water, which appeared to be in the shape of a plane.

On board the plane were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew.

Most were Indonesian but the passengers included one UK national, a Malaysian, a Singaporean and three South Koreans.

AirAsia previously had an excellent safety record and there were no fatal accidents involving its aircraft.

Source: BBC