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Bodies and wreckage from missing AirAsia flight found in Java Sea

Indonesians watching local television media, in North Sumatra, Indonesia, about missing AirAsia flight on Dec. 30, 2014. Ivan Damanik/NurPhoto/REX

The wreckage from AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has been found in the Java Sea, officials confirm.

The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia said on Tuesday that debris and bodies found earlier were indeed the remains of the flight.

Search crews have recovered about 40 bodies floating off the coast of Borneo, near where the plane disappeared.

The bodies were found about 10 kilometres from Flight QZ8501’s last communications with air-traffic control.

“I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501,” Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia, said in a statement.

Initial sightings by search teams included an oil slick, objects in the water and smoke coming from an island near Indonesia, but none of them led to the plane.

Authorities started investigating the photographs, looking into a patch of debris and trying to determine if it indicated the AirAsia jetliner crashed and sank.

Slowly, throughout the day video filtered in showing objects, that appeared to resemble parts of an aircraft.

Then later, during a news conference by Indonesia’s search and rescue chief Bambang Sulistyo, video was shown of what could only be a body floating on the water.

Relatives of passengers gathered at a crisis centre watching the pictures were visibly shocked, struggling to cope with their grief.

Flight QZ8501disappeared on Sunday with 162 people on board. It is believed to have run into storms over the Java Sea.

Contact with the the jet was lost soon after it requested a change in course because of bad weather, roughly halfway through the Indonesian flight to Singapore.

With files from The Associated Press