First Body From AirAsia Crash Identified as Weather Halts Search

First Body From AirAsia Crash Identified as Weather Halts Search
Source: AP
Source: AP

A passenger aboard missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 became the first victim of the crash to be returned to her family Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

"Hayati Lutfiah Hamid's identity was confirmed by fingerprints and other means, said Col. Budiyono of East Java's Disaster Victim Identification Unit," according to the AP. Nine bodies have been recovered so far, including two on Thursday, after the Airbus A320 with 162 people on board crashed in the Java Sea on Sunday.

"[Hamid's] body, in a dark casket topped with flowers, was handed over to family members during a brief ceremony at a police hospital in Surabaya, the Indonesian city where the plane took off," writes the Associated Press. "A relative cried as she placed both hands against the polished wood. The coffin was then taken to a village and lowered into a muddy grave, following Muslim obligations requiring bodies to be buried quickly. An imam said a simple prayer as about 150 people gathered in the drizzling rain, and red flowers were sprinkled over the mound of wet dirt topped by a small white tombstone."

More painful reunions await the family members of QZ8501 passengers, but some may be left waiting for weeks: Heavy seas and turbulent winds stopped divers from reaching the possible wreck of an AirAsia Indonesia jet off Borneo on Thursday, Reuters reports.

Searches on Thursday spanned 5,200 square miles and involved 19 ships, four helicopters and five planes, Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency chief Fransiskus Bambang Soelisty told Reuters. A search and rescue pilot has spotted a large shadow in the sea, which rescuers believe may be the wreckage.

If this is in fact the wreckage of the AirAsia plane, officials told news agencies Thursday that it could take a week to recover the black box and unravel the last few minutes of Flight QZ8501.

"I am hoping that the latest information is correct and aircraft has been found," AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted on Thursday. "Please all hope together. This is so important."

Editor's Note: Feb. 25, 2015

An earlier version of this article cited Associated Press reporting, but did not include quotations around the cited passage. The story has been updated to fully attribute the Associated Press' language.