Indonesia stops search, evacuation operation for AirAsia victims

Basarnas will conduct additional operation for seven days starting March 9, 2015, before stop it completely.
Surabaya, E Java (ANTARA News) - Search and evacuation efforts for the victims of the ill-fated AirAsia QZ8501 have been officially stopped, according to Chief of the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Vice Marshal F.H.B. Soelistyo.

"I and the victims relatives have agreed to officially end the search and evacuation operation at 1:45 p.m. local time," Soelistyo stated here, Tuesday.

They also agreed that Basarnas will conduct additional operation for seven days starting March 9, 2015.

"We will try again only for a week. This additional operation is to respect the victims relatives. However, after this, I will completely stop it," he noted.

The identification of some victims is still pending, however, the process will continue until all the recovered bodies are identified and returned to their families.

"We have told the media that 103 bodies have been recovered, in addition to the four body bags that we discovered in the planes fuselage. The four have not been identified," he added.

Vice Marshal Soelistyo held a closed-door meeting with relatives of the AirAsia QZ8501 victims at the East Java Police Headquarters on Tuesday.

The Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-200 lost contact with air traffic control over the Java Sea on Dec. 28 morning, shortly after taking off from Juanda International Airport, Surabaya, East Java province, en route to Singapore.

The ill-fated plane had 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, a Malaysian, a Singaporean, a British, and a French national on board.

The ill-fated plane is believed to have crashed in the Java Sea near Karimata Strait, some 95 nautical miles from Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

Since the day of its disappearance, Indonesia has launched a massive search and rescue operation, which was joined in by several foreign countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, India, and Russia.

In January, the transportation ministrys National Transportation Safety Commission (KNKT) released 18 points of factual information in a preliminary report based on the black box recordings of the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501.

Head of KNKTs AirAsia QZ8501 Investigation Team Mardjono Siswosuwarno stated, among other things, that the second-in-command pilot, or co-pilot, was flying the aircraft when the accident occurred.(*)