AirAsia QZ8501: Female passenger is first victim buried

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

The first victim of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, found in the Java Sea after the crash on Sunday, has been laid to rest.

Officials earlier identified the remains as belonging to a female passenger called Hayati Lutfiah Hamid.

Ms Hamid, 49, was buried at a ceremony attended by family and friends in the Indonesian city of Surabaya.

The discovery of two bodies on Thursday brings the number recovered to nine. Bad weather has continued to hamper the search for the plane and other victims.

The Airbus A320-200 came down four days ago en route from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board.

No survivors have been found and the cause of the crash remains unknown.

The identity of Ms Hamid was confirmed using fingerprints "and other means," East Java disaster official Col Budiyono said. Her body was handed over to family members in a brief ceremony at a police hospital in Surabaya.

The coffin was then transported to a village, before being buried according to Islamic burial customs.

One of Ms Hamid's relatives told AP news agency: "We have been fraught with worry because at this point, three of our family members are still missing... we pray together every night that they will be found soon."

Previous media reports had incorrectly identified Ms Hamid as a flight attendant.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A marker was left in place where Hayati Lutfiah Hamid was buried
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ships and planes from Malaysia, Australia and Thailand have all joined Indonesia in the search
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Images of objects recovered from the sea, believed to be from the plane, were released on Thursday

The nine recovered bodies were flown to an airbase in Borneo but some have since been sent onto Surabaya where relatives, providing DNA samples, are waiting for them to be identified.

For a second day in a row, search efforts have been hampered by heavy rain and rough seas.

Some 50 divers from Indonesia were on standby to investigate a large shadow in the sea, thought to be part of the airliner, but they were unable to gain access due to the bad weather.

'Race against time'

AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes said on Thursday he believed the search was closing in on its final location, tweeting: "I am hoping that the latest information is correct and aircraft has been found."

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

They 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.

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

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

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Media captionKevin Khuana talks to the BBC about his friend Stephanie Gunawan, who was on board AirAsia QZ8501

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.

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.

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.

However, the unnamed source emphasised that more information was needed before a definitive conclusion could be reached.

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