The first two bodies from the AirAsia flight QZ8501 crash have arrived back in the Indonesian city of Surabaya, where relatives are waiting. Next of kin have been asked for DNA samples to help identify the victims. The Airbus A320-200, carrying a 162 people from Surabaya to Singapore, disappeared on Sunday and remains were located in the sea on Tuesday. The authorities say seven bodies have been retrieved but bad weather is hampering further salvage efforts. A public memorial will be held in Surabaya on Wednesday evening local time, and the governor of East-Java province has told reporters that all New-Year’s Eve celebrations have been cancelled. On board the plane were 137 adult passengers, 17 children and one infant, along with two pilots and five crew.
The bodies were flown to Surabaya’s Juanda airport on Wednesday afternoon from a hospital in Pangkalan Bun, where they had been sent from the crash site. Another five bodies are reported to be on board a ship on their way to a harbour near Pangkalan Bun. Four of the seven bodies are male and three female, one of them a flight attendant. Strong winds and 2m waves have slowed down the recovery of bodies and debris, with helicopters mostly grounded and divers prevented from searching the waters. The weather is forecast to deteriorate further, with heavy rains until Friday. The search is being led by Indonesia but it is a multinational effort. Singapore has sent ships equipped with sensors to detect pings that may be emitted from the plane’s black boxes. Malaysia, Australia and Thailand are also involved, while the US destroyer USS Sampson has been sent to the zone.