Wreckage of Missing AirAsia Airbus A 320 Flight # QZ 8501 Jet Found by Searchers in the Java Sea

Wreckage and several bodies from the missing AirAsia Airbus A 320 jet were last night found by searchers in the Java Sea - but there were no reports of survivors.

"God blessed us today," National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo told a press conference.

"At 12.50 the Air Force Hercules found an object described as a shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a Aircraft," he said.

But hopes of finding survivors were dashed.

At least three bodies had been recovered from the ocean last night, and others were seen near floating debris, some of which resembled an Aircraft door and emergency slide.

The bodies had been taken to an Indonesian navy ship, the Associated Press reported.

Air Force Hercules C130 co-Pilot Lieutenant Tri Wibowo, who flew on a search mission over the area, told kompass.com he saw dozens of floating bodies as well as passenger luggage and Aircraft debris.

"We thought that the passengers were still alive and waved at us for help. But when we approached closer [we saw] they were already dead," he said.

Some 21 divers had been sent to retrieve debris and bodies from the water.

AirAsia founder and group chief executive Tony Fernandes tweeted shortly after the news broke: "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences."

Indonesia's civil aviation chief confirmed the debris found in the search area was from missing Flight QZ8501, which disappeared on Sunday in a storm over the Java Sea with 162 people on board.  "For the time being it can be confirmed that it's the AirAsia Aircraft and the transport minister will depart soon to Pangkalan Bun," Djoko Murjatmodjo said.

Reports from Crews suggested as many as 10 items may have been located, including what might be a life raft, life jackets and long orange tubes.  "Based on the observation by search and rescue personnel, significant things have been found such as a passenger door and cargo door. It's in the sea, 160km southwest of Pangkalan Bun," Mr Djoko said.

Pangkalan Bun is in central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.  Indonesian officials coming off a helicopter in Pangkalan Bun said they spotted several bodies floating in the water.

"There was a man swaying on the waves.

"After I looked at the photo carefully on my laptop, I understood it was a human body," a lieutenant of the Indonesian Air Force told local media.  There were no reports of any survivors, although the presence of a life raft gave initial hope people might have survived the crash.

The chances of the objects in the Java Sea being from the AirAsia jet increased dramatically after it was revealed some of the pieces were red and white - the Airline's colours. 

The debris is red and white," said Mr Djoko.

It's likely from the body of the Aircraft.

While officials greeted the news with cautious enthusiasm, the suggestion that a portion of the body of the Aircraft had been found was greeted with dismay by families of those on board.

Does this mean the Aircraft has broken up completely ? Asked a distressed man at Singapore Airport, where police were guarding a room set aside for family members to receive briefings.

The news of the sighting of the debris came within two hours of it being revealed that family members were intending to fly over the search area so they could pray for those who were missing.

It was not immediately clear whether that charter Flight will now go ahead as officials said that viewing the debris would be likely to cause great anxiety.

The Airbus A320-200 lost contact about 6.17am local time on Sunday en route from Surabaya, in Indonesia's east Java, to Singapore after the Crew requested a change of Flight plan due to stormy weather.

Aviation experts have revealed veteran Pilots usually avoid the area known as the "thunderstorm factory", where the Flight went missing, because of its catastrophic storms.

Strategic Aviation Solutions chAirman Neil Hansford told Australia's Today show on Channel Nine that most Flights went around the area and somebody "dropped the ball" when they made the Flight plan for QZ8501.

Earlier yesterday, New Zealand sent a military Aircraft to help in the search.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign AffAirs and Trade said a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion had been sent to join the international search mission.

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