Search for AirAsia, religious figures offer prayers for better weather

"We cannot fight nature, and therefore, we would ask for protection and directives from Allah," Muhammad Ali Alawi, one of the clerics, said.
Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - Eight local religious figures in Pangkalan Bun flew aboard an Air Force helicopter over the sea to offer prayers for favorable weather conditions to facilitate the search for AirAsia QZ8501 wreckage and victims.

The evacuation teams have worked very hard for the past nine days, but bad weather conditions have always disrupted their efforts, Muhammad Ali Alawi, one of the clerics, said before boarding the helicopter at the Iskandar air base here on Tuesday.

"We cannot fight nature, and therefore, we would ask for protection and directives from Allah. We have been called to help the teams, at least through our prayers we will offer above the waters where the plane is believed to have crashed," he noted.

Alawi said all people in Pangkalan Bun have always prayed for the quick recovery of the AirAsia wreckage, and even the local government has appealed to the people to raise the national flag at half-mast to mourn for the victims.

"We will pray on the helicopter that will fly around the crash location, and if possible, also aboard the ship that is conducting a search operation. We will coordinate with the military (TNI) and the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) in connection with our activities," he remarked.

S.B. Supriyadi, Basarnas director of operations and training, said that until the ninth day, conditions at sea remained dark, and the strong sea currents marred the attempt of two marine divers who then returned back to the ship.

"We would not take risks by forcing the divers to continue to dive under such situations. We must prevent any new problem. No one is able to fight nature," he stated.

Until Tuesday, a total of 37 bodies have, so far, been recovered and flown to Surabaya where the AirAsia QZ8501, carrying 162 passengers including crew members, took off before it crashed en route to Singapore.

On Monday, three more bodies had been found by Diraja Kesturi, while USS Sampson had discovered two front seats, or seats for the cabin crew, and they have all been taken to the Iskandar air base in Pangkalan Bun.

"The seats discovered by Diraja Kesturi have not been taken to the ship, but their data has been documented and sent to KNKT (the National Committee for Transportation Safety)," he added.(*)