AirAsia flight QZ8501: Bodies of two pilots found in cockpit, one retrieved

In this Feb 2, 2015 photo, Indonesian divers and rescue personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency recover a body from the underwater wreckage of the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java sea. -- PHOTO: AFP
In this Feb 2, 2015 photo, Indonesian divers and rescue personnel from the National Search and Rescue Agency recover a body from the underwater wreckage of the ill-fated AirAsia flight QZ8501 in the Java sea. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesia's search and rescue agency Basarnas has found the bodies of the two pilots of the crashed AirAsia flight QZ8501, it told AFP on Friday, according to the local news media.

Baasarnas chief Bambang Soelistyo said the plane cockpit was found 20m from where the fuselage was located, and the bodies of the pilots were inside, still wearing uniforms and strapped to their seats, reported news portal Detik.com.

"The cockpit has been found but it no longer intact. Then, one pilot's body has been evacuated to our ship KN Pacitan," Detik.com quoted him as saying.

 The body that divers managed to evacuate to the rescue ship could not be identifed due to an advanced state of decomposition, Mr Soelistyo said, according to Detik.com.

"The pilot is still in the chair and we evacuated the body this afternoon. The  body was found in uniform, intact, but there has been decomposition because it has been several days underwater," he was quoted as saying.

The divers are set to go back down on Saturday morning to retrieve what is suspected to be the other body.

"One is allegedly still in it. Hopefully, we can retrieve it this morning," said Mr Soelistyo was quoted as saying by Detik.com.

He said the team's priority will be to evacuate the second body, but did not confirm if the cockpit will be recovered.

"The cockpit is located at approximately 20m from the aircraft body. Depends on conditions whether we lift the cockpit or not, but more importantly, we evacuate the bodies first," Detik.com quoted him as saying.

The AirAsia plane crashed on Dec 28 en route to Singapore from Surabaya, with 162 people on board.

98 bodies have been found so far, Detik.com quoted Mr Soelistyo as saying. This includes the pilot's body found on Friday and one more found in the waters off Pinrang, South Sulawesi.