UPDATED: Debris Is ‘From Missing AirAsia Plane’ – Indonesian Aviation Chief

The Transportation Ministry’s acting director general of air transportation, Djoko Murjatmodjo, revealed on Tuesday that wreckage found in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, was from the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.

“It has been confirmed that it is debris from an aircraft bearing red and white colors,” Djoko confirmed, citing that the debris was found by the ministry’s rescue team.

“The recovery process will now be centered in the debris location in coordination with Basarnas [the National Search and Rescue Agency],” he continued.

According to The Jakarta Post, Indonesian aerial searchers Tuesday spotted items resembling an emergency slide and plane door in the sea as they hunted for traces of an AirAsia passenger jet that disappeared in a storm.

More than 48 hours after the Airbus A320-200 carrying 162 people went missing en route from Indonesia’s second largest city Surabaya to Singapore, it appeared to be the most concrete clue yet to the plane’s fate after several false leads, as desperate relatives await news of their loved ones.

An AFP photographer on the search plane that spotted the possible debris said he had seen objects in the sea resembling a life raft, life jackets and long orange tubes as they flew just 500 feet (150 metres) above the water.

AirAsia says air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 7:24 a.m. Sunday, Singapore time (6:24 a.m. in Indonesia).

The plane, flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, went missing as it flew over the Java Sea between the islands of Belitung and Borneo — a heavily traveled shipping channel with shallow waters — Indonesian authorities said.

Before the plane, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic controllers, one of the pilots requested to change course and fly at a higher altitude because of bad weather, officials said. Heavy thunderstorms were reported in the area at the time.

Air traffic control approved the pilot’s request to turn left however got denied permission for the plane to climb to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet, Djoko Murjatmodjo, an aviation authority at the Indonesian Transport Ministry, told the national newspaper Kompas.

Meanwhile, six bodies have been found and at least three recovered during the search for missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, Indonesian officials and media say.

Relatives of the 162 people missing on the plane hugged each other and burst into tears in Surabaya, where the plane departed from, as they watched footage showing a body floating in the sea on a television feed of Soelistyo’s press conference in Jakarta, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Condolences to the loved ones and friends of passengers and crew of AirAsia flight QZ8501. Very sad news… #staystrong