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Grim task of retrieving bodies after wreckage of missing AirAsia plane found

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By Seamus Kearney
Grim task of retrieving bodies after wreckage of missing AirAsia plane found

Searchers in the Java Sea face the grim task of recovering bodies after confirmation that wreckage from the missing AirAsia flight has been found.

Officials say more than 40 bodies have so far been retrieved from the water, off the coast of Borneo island.

There is no word of any survivors being found.

The wreckage was spotted close to where the missing plane disappeared off radar screens on Sunday, with 162 people on board.

Most of the passengers were Indonesian, but also included one UK national, a Malaysian and people from Singapore and South Korea.

The AirAsia flight vanished 40 minutes after takeoff from Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, bound for Singapore.

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 Indonesian 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 his thoughts were with the families of those who have lost loved ones and 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.