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Rescue operation for victims of Air Asia Flight QZ8501 begins, 6 bodies found, 3 evacuated

JAKARTA ( – The hope of the families of Air Asia Flight QZ8501 to find their family members alive faded on Tuesday after the National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) Chief FBH Sulistyo told a packed press conference that some debris of the aircraft has been found. The aircraft disappeared from radar mid-way to Singapore.

It is not clear yet whether the aircraft has crashed, ditched on the water or exploded in the air, pending on the result of further investigation. The focus of the BASARNAS now is to rescue to victims quickly.

Later, Metro TV and TV One broadcast pictures of debris as well as several blurred bodies of the victims of the aircraft floating in the water. The rescue team apparently is racing against time otherwise the debris and bodies will be taken away by water current.

TV One showed an exclusive picture an officer was lowered down from helicopter to reach the floating bodies and debris. It reported that six bodies of the aircraft has been found and three has been evacuated by a Navy ship.

Meanwhile, families of the aircraft who are gathering at the Juanda Airport Crisis Center, burst into tears after learning that debris of the missing aircraft has been found. Some family members were fainted and were immediately taken for medical treatment.

Sulistyo said that the next step is to rescue the victims which are already underway. He said Basarnas will send the best divers to rescue the victims supported by navy vessels as well as other vessels, aircraft and helicopters under the coordination of BASARNAS. The debris of the plane are about one hour from Pangkalan Bun.

Sulistyo said he still hopes that there could be passengers found alive if the aircraft is ditching and not exploded. Media reported that certain rescue team members have seen suspected large part of the aircraft underwater, which leads to possibility that the aircraft could have been ditching and then broke up.

He said the Rescue Center will be set up in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan. Victims will be evacuated to Pangkalan Bun and then flown to Surabaya where families of the Flight QZ8501 gathered. (*)

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