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Bodies, debris from AirAsia flight found in sea

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Posted at 8:07 AM, Dec 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-30 23:16:23-05

Air crews searching in Southeast Asia for the AirAsia jet that vanished Sunday with 162 people aboard spotted bodies and debris floating in the Java Sea off the coast of Bornea Tuesday.

Airline officials confirmed that the bodies and debris are from the missing flight, according to the Washington Post.

"AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th," the airline said in a statement.

Lt. Tri Wibowo, a co-pilot of an Air Force Hercules C130 that was part of the search, said his team saw dozens of floating bodies and aircraft debris off the coast of Borneo.

This confirms what Indonesian rescue officials indicated Monday, that the plane likely is at the bottom of the sea, according to CNN

A rescue official said sonar equipment has located the wreckage, according to CNN

Forty bodies have been recovered, Indonesian Navy officials told Reuters Tuesday. 

The airline said in a statement that it was inviting family members to Surabaya, "where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met."

Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing already gathered at a crisis center in Surabaya wept with heads in their hands. Several people collapsed in grief and were helped away, according to Reuters.

"My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501," AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted. "On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am."

Fernandes indicated he was on his way to Surabaya.

Search and rescue teams are diverting all their resources to where the debris is located, authorities told CNN. The area is about 6 miles from the aircraft's last known location over the Java Sea, off the coast of Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo.

Officials originally held out hope for survivors but said they were preparing for the worst, according to USA Today

The search operation involved 30 ships and 15 aircraft.

AirAsia Flight 8501 lost contact with air control early Sunday morning while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.

The plane went missing over Java Sea after one of the plane's pilots asked to divert from the route because of inclement weather, CNN reported.

No Americans were on the flight, according to the airline. Of the people on board, 155 are Indonesian, three are South Korean, one is British, one is French, one is Singaporian and one is Malaysian.

Seventeen of the passengers are children, airline officials said.

"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this incident," AirAsia Indonesia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko said in a statement. "We are cooperating with the relevant authorities to the fullest extent to determine the cause of this incident. In the meantime, our main priority is keeping the families of our passengers and colleagues informed on the latest developments." 

AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said via his Twitter account that this is his worst "nightmare." 

"I am touched by the massive show of support especially from my fellow airlines," he tweeted. 

The missing plane is the third incident this year to involve Malaysia, according to the Associated Press. In March, Flight 370 disappeared. There were 239 people on board.

In July, Flight 17 was shot down over the Ukraine, and all 298 people on board were killed. 

A report from Bloomberg says more than 80 aircraft have gone missing worldwide since 1948, with an average of 1-2 per year.