Indonesia is a country in mourning, as officials confirmed that bodies and wreckage from a missing AirAsia flight had been found.
Point of view
I am feeling their loss and pray they are given all the courage and strength to face this tragedy
Searchers have begun retrieving the dozens of bodies spotted in the Java Sea, off the coast of Borneo island.
A total of 162 people were on board the plane travelling from Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, to Singapore.
Officials said the recovery of bodies and wreckage will continue with a massive military operation on Wednesday morning.
The debris is being taken to a military facility for further examination, as investigators also try to locate the flight recorders.
The Indonesian President told the media his condolences go out to the families. “I am feeling their loss and pray they are given all the courage and strength to face this tragedy,” he said.
The plane vanished 40 minutes after takeoff.
Just before contact was lost, the pilot had requested permission to go to a higher altitude to avoid thunderstorms.
About 30 ships, including a US warship, and 21 aircraft from six countries have been involved in the search.
At a crisis centre set up at the airport in Surabaya, families of those on board watched in distress as the pictures of the wreckage and bodies were broadcast on national television.
The Indonesian president headed to the scene of the crash and later held a media conference.
Joko Widodo said these were difficult times for the country and called on people to be strong.
The president said the priority now was to recover everything possible from the crash site.
Widodo also said weather in the search area was bad, with high waves, and it would be a difficult operation to retrieve the bodies and wreckage.
Some unconfirmed media reports say the plane may have stalled, as it was flying 100 knots too slow when attempting to climb altitude to avoid the bad weather.
There were 137 adult passengers, 18 children and two pilots and five crew.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes said he was on his way to Surabaya and tweeted his condolences to the families of the those involved.
My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences … http://t.co/OJGobL93cR— Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) 30 Décembre 2014
PHOTO (GRAPHIC): A rescuer is lowered near a body in the Java Sea where an AirAsia jetliner went missing: http://t.co/xLSb1z2gKh— The Associated Press (@AP) December 30, 2014