AirAsia flight QZ8501: Who were the victims?

  • 5 January 2015
  • From the section Asia

Indonesia has confirmed AirAsia flight QZ8501, which went missing 28 December en route from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, crashed into the Java Sea.

The Airbus A320-200 was carrying seven crew and 155 passengers, including 17 children and a baby. Almost all of them were Indonesians, with the exception of a South Korean family of three, the French co-pilot, one Briton, one Singaporean and a Malaysian.

Despite Indonesia being an overwhelmingly Muslim country, 41 of those on board were members of the same Christian church in Surabaya.

Here are some of their stories.


The pilot: Captain Iriyanto

Image caption Capt Iriyanto (L) pictured with friends

Capt Iriyanto, an Indonesian national, has been described as an experienced airman, who was a fighter pilot before going into commercial aviation.

AirAsia Indonesia said he had logged 20,537 hours of flight time, 6,053 of which were with AirAsia.

Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) said that after leaving the Indonesian Air Force, Capt Iriyanto became a commercial pilot with Merpati Airways. He then joined Adam Air - which had a plane crash on the island of Sulawesi in 2007 and went bankrupt in 2008 - before moving to AirAsia.

His father told the BBC on Monday that he was heartbroken at the possibility that his son might not come back alive.

He had seen him just the previous week at the funeral of another of his sons who had died of complications related to diabetes.

Edy Novianto was a friend of the pilot's - both were in a club for motorcycle enthusiasts.

"Iriyanto joined our club in 2009," he told the BBC, as he visited the family home to pay his respects.

"He had a passion for motor bikes. He was a very safe rider and he taught us the importance of discipline.

"He was inspiring to the group because he was such a nice, friendly, generous man. We will miss him but we still feel his presence with us."


The co-pilot: First Officer Remi Emmanuel Plesel

Image caption Remi Plesel (L) had always wanted to be a pilot

The co-pilot was a 46-year-old French national who was born in the Caribbean territory of Martinique and lived in Paris. He had 2,275 hours of flight experience.

Speaking from Martinique, Plesel's mother Rolande told the French newspaper Le Parisien: "He wanted to be a pilot ever since he was a child."

She said they were close, and he telephoned her every time he took a flight. On Saturday, they had a video chat because he wanted to see their Christmas decorations, she added.

Ms Plesel told French media there that his girlfriend called on Sunday to tell her about the missing flight.

Remi Plesel studied in Paris and worked as an engineer for the Total oil company before leaving to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot, Martinique 1ere reported.

He was the vice-president of an association of professional pilots from the Caribbean and had worked as a pilot in Indonesia for three years, Le Parisien said.


Flight attendant Khairunisa Haidar

Image copyright AP
Image caption Haidar Fauzie holds up a picture of his daughter Khairunisa Haidar

Khairunisa Haidar was a flight attendant on QZ8501. The 22-year-old, who is also known as Nisa, studied law at university and had been working with the airline for the last two years.

Her father, Haidar Fauzi, told AP news agency: "She is beautiful and smart. It has always been her dream to fly. We couldn't have stopped her."

Khairunisa Haidar had recently posted a photo on her Instagram account of the view from a plane, with a hand-written note that read: "I love you from 38000 ft".

Her family said they had been expecting her to visit in early January for her brother's birthday.

"Nisa was a good girl. She had always showed compassion to the family. She often sent money she got from working as a flight attendant to her mum," her father told the Jakarta Post.


Chi-Man Choi

Image copyright LinkedIn

Mr Choi was on flight QZ8501 with his two-year-old daughter, Zoe, a Singaporean citizen. It is believed that his wife and son had taken an earlier flight to Singapore because the family had been unable to get four seats together.

Originally from Hull, the 48-year-old studied engineering at the University of Essex.

Mr Choi lived in Singapore but worked in Indonesia as a managing director of thermal services for electronics manufacturing firm Alstom Power.

His parents, who are from Hong Kong, still live in Hull. Mr Choi is also understood to have a brother and sister in the UK.

In his LinkedIn profile, former colleagues praised Mr Choi for his experience in multicultural work environments, saying he communicated well with people from different cultures.


Jo Indri, Charlie Gunawan, Jie Stevie Gunawan, Jie Stephanie Gunawan, Kayla Audrey Gunawan, Kenneth Mathew Gunawan, Hendra Gunawan Syawal

Image caption Stephanie Gunawan (R) with friend Ayu Nirmala Putri

Jo Indri had decided to go to Singapore with five members of her family, Channel News Asia reported.

Her daughter, identified as Ms Lili, explained that they had all been too busy to celebrate Christmas together.

"Besides my brothers, Meiji Tedjakusuma, her husband Charlie Gunawan and their three children are also on the plane," she added.

Among the Gunawan family party was 21-year-old marketing student Stephanie.

Her university friend Ayu Nirmala Putri told the BBC she was a tough girl who cared deeply for her friends.

Media caption"She was my best friend"

Bhima Aly Wicaksana

Media caption"He had a big collection of books and his passion was teaching"

Career-focused 31-year-old entrepreneur Bhima Aly Wicaksana was making his first overseas trip to Singapore.

His mother, Sribudi Siswardani, told the BBC: "He was so excited about it. He bought new shoes, new clothes and new trousers."

He loved reading books and playing computer games, and his big passions were teaching young people and building his online clothes-selling business.


Park Seong-beom and Lee Kyung-hwa

This South Korean couple were Christian missionaries who worked in Indonesia. They were travelling to Singapore with their baby daughter to renew their visas.

Mr Park and his family were from Yeosu, a fishing village 450km (280 miles) south of Seoul.

"It had been only two months since he settled in Indonesia and he was in the middle of learning the local language," Kim Jong Heon, a pastor at Yeosu First Presbyterian Church, told Bloomberg.

"He didn't mind evangelising as an ordinary Christian, because he was passionate about his work and wanted to help people in any way he could."

Mr Park also taught Korean and computer skills.

Before their arrival in Indonesia in September, the couple had lived in Cambodia for four years.


Maria Florentina Widodo

Maria Widodo, a 26-year-old Indonesian national, was a biology teacher at Singapore's Hwa Chong Institution, Singapore's Straits Times reported. She was known to family and friends as Tina.

Ms Widodo graduated from Singapore's National Institute of Education last year.


Grayson Herbert Linaksita

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Grayson Herbert Linaksita was thought to have been flying with two family members

Grayson Herbert Linaksita, an 11-year-old boy, was believed to have been travelling with his parents and 12-year-old sister.

His great-uncle Bagyono Linaksita, 73, told AFP that he did not want to break the news to the boy's grandmother, as she was devoted to him.

"She doted on her two grandchildren and would send and fetch them from school every day," he said.

"Grayson was her favourite grandchild, she will certainly faint."


Ruth Natalia Puspitasari and her fiance, Bob Hartanto Wijaya

Ms Puspitasari was due to celebrate her 26th birthday in Singapore on Monday with her fiance, Mr Wijaya, and his parents, the UK's Independent newspaper reported.

Ms Puspitasari, an economics student, met Mr Wijaya while studying at Petra Christian University in Surabaya, and had recently moved to Guangzhou province in China.

Mr Wijaya was the co-owner of a toy shop in his hometown of Malang, the Independent added.


Yuni Astutik

Ms Astutik, 40, had worked for years as a maid in Singapore.

She returned to Indonesia to attend a wedding last month, Channel News Asia reported, citing an employment agent who had travelled to the airport to give her a work permit.


Kevin Alexander Soetjipto

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Soetjipto's friends said they were devastated by the news of his death

Mr Soetjipto was on a family holiday when the plane crashed. He was a commerce student at Melbourne's Monash University in Australia.

The university said that his loss would be deeply felt by students and staff.

Randy Mikha Sampe Pajung, outgoing president of the Monash Indonesian Students Association, said the news was "devastating".

"We, as Kevin's friends in the community, held hopes that the search would bring some hope, however we are now heartbroken at the loss of our friend," he said, adding: "We must now pay tribute to all of those affected."


Nico Giovanni

The 18-year-old had recently finished his first year at Singapore's St Andrew's Junior College, an Anglo-Chinese school, on a scholarship from Singapore's education ministry.

A friend told the Straits Times that Mr Giovanni was "very reserved" but "hard-working and respectful". It is believed he was on the plane with his parents and a brother.


Hayati Lutfiah Hamid

Ms Hamid, 47, was the first victim to be identified. Her 10-year-old daughter, husband and mother-in-law are all believed to have been on the plane with her.

She was an Indonesian primary school teacher who was going to Singapore on holiday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

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