Number of recovered AirAsia bodies rises to 100

JAKARTA - More than one month after AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crashed with 162 people on board, the number of bodies recovered from the Java Sea has reached 100.

Bambang Soelistyo, head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told Metro TV on Saturday, “There were 101 bodies recovered, but one of them was not an AirAsia victim based on identification by DVI [Disaster Victim Identification] in Surabaya.”

He explained that out of the 93 bodies sent to Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, one set of bones -- recovered by fishermen -- was later identified by the DVI team as belonging to a monkey.

Soelistyo explained that the seven victims found in the last two days -- including one retrieved from the plane’s damaged cockpit section -- were on a warship heading for Pangkalan Bun, the nearest town to the crash site.

Earlier in the day, he had announced that divers discovered the bodies of the two pilots from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 strapped to their seats.

While one was lifted out of the Karimata strait Friday afternoon, Soelistyo expressed hope that weather conditions would permit divers to recover the remaining pilot.

He said the agency was waiting for DVI to identify whether the recovered body belonged to the flight’s captain Iriyanto -- who like many Indonesians used only one name -- or French co-pilot Remy Plesel.

Soelistyo also announced that search operations would be extended as dozens of bodies had been recovered during the week.

Late last month, the agency had said the search for victims might be called off if more were not found.

Indonesia’s military had earlier ceased search operations, withdrawing its warships after a slowdown in discoveries.

Investigators are analyzing data from the aircraft's two "black box" flight recorders to determine why it crashed Dec. 28 off Borneo as it flew from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board. Terrorism has been ruled unlikely.

The last contact with air traffic controllers was when the pilot asked to climb from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid storm clouds.

The flight was denied immediate permission due to heavy air traffic in the area and four minutes later the plane disappeared.

It reportedly disappeared from radar immediately after climbing at a rate outside the Airbus A320-200’s safety parameters.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency