AirAsia QZ8501: Two more bodies recovered

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Media captionRupert Wingfield-Hayes reports on the funeral and the latest on the recovery operation

Two more bodies have been recovered from the Java Sea as search operations continue for the remains of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, officials say.

The bodies, flown to an airbase in Borneo, bring to nine the total recovered. The funeral of one victim, a flight attendant, has been held.

However, bad weather has continued to hamper the search for wreckage.

The plane came down four days ago en route from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board.

No survivors have been found.

Skies brightened over the search area on Thursday but rough seas, which slowed salvage efforts, returned within hours.

Ships and planes are scouring the Java Sea off Borneo. Malaysia, Australia and Thailand are helping Indonesia with the search, while the US destroyer USS Sampson has been sent to the zone.

Divers are hoping to investigate a large object sighted by a rescue pilot which it is thought could be part of the airliner.

Naval officer Siahala Alamsyah said that bad weather and high seas on Wednesday night prevented a team of about 50 Indonesian navy divers from flying out to warships at the scene of the disaster.

Search teams are hoping to locate the fuselage of the plane on the seabed and find the plane's "black box" recorders, which could provide clues about the cause of the crash.

"It's possible the bodies are in the fuselage," said search and rescue co-ordinator Sunarbowo Sand from his base in Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island - the closest town to the targeted area.

"It's a race now against time and weather."

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Image caption The funeral of Hayati Lutfiah Hamid took place in Surabaya, east Java
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Indonesian search teams continue to recover bodies
Image copyright AP
Image caption So far search and rescue vessels have had to brave high seas

Flight QZ8501, from Surabaya in Java to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday. Debris from the plane, an Airbus A320-200, was located in the sea on Tuesday.

There were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew, on the plane.

The majority of those on board were Indonesians.

Bodies are being flown on from Borneo to Surabaya where relatives, providing DNA samples, are waiting for them to be identified.

The only body identified so far is that of AirAsia flight attendant Hayati Lutfia Hamid. Her funeral has taken place in Surabaya.

Aerodynamic stall?

Some investigators are reported to believe that the plane may have gone into an aerodynamic stall as the pilot climbed steeply to avoid a storm.

Officials quoted by the Reuters news agency say that the plane was travelling at 32,000ft (9,750m) when it requested to climb to 38,000ft to avoid bad weather.

When air traffic controllers consented to allow it to climb to 34,000ft a few minutes later, they got no reply.

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Media captionSribudi Siswardani's 31-year-old son was on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 - on his first trip overseas

A source quoted by Reuters said that radar data appeared to show that the aircraft's "unbelievably" steep climb may have been beyond the Airbus A320's limits.

"So far, the numbers taken by the radar are unbelievably high. This rate of climb is very high, too high. It appears to be beyond the performance envelope of the aircraft," the source said, while emphasising that more information was needed before a definitive conclusion could be reached.

Hundreds of people, including young children, turned out to a candlelit vigil in Surabaya on Wednesday evening.

All New Year's Eve celebrations in East Java province were cancelled.

In Jakarta, the capital, residents began new year festivities with a prayer for the victims. A number of other cities cancelled or scaled down their new year celebrations.

AirAsia previously had an excellent safety record and there were no fatal accidents involving its aircraft.

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