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Family Buries First Victim Of AirAsia Plane Crash

A relative weeps during the handover of the body of Hayati Lutfiah Hamid, one of the victims of AirAsia Flight 8501, to her family at the police hospital in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, on Thursday.
Dita Alangkara

Authorities returned the remains of Hayati Lutfiah Hamid to her family on Thursday in a ceremony in Indonesia.

Lutfiah was the first victim identified and turned over to family members since rescue crews zeroed in on the missing AirAsia jetliner, which crashed into the Java Sea in December.

The AP reports this is the first ceremony of many more to come. The AP adds:

"Her 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. 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."

Flight QZ8501 was carrying 162 passengers and crew.

Meanwhile, the search for bodies resumed after being disrupted by bad weather.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

"Another body was found late on Thursday, and was delivered from the boat to the port at Pangkalanbun, Borneo, the closest port to the crash site. This brings the total to eight bodies recovered from the crash. One has been identified, five are at the police morgue in Surabaya awaiting identification — two females and three males — and two have not yet been airlifted from Pangkalanbun to Surabaya. ...

"No news has emerged from the dive site about 105 nautical miles off Pangkalanbun ... where changeable weather may have thwarted once more hopes that divers would be able to access the site of the wreckage for the first time.

"A Singapore-based ship with sophisticated under-sea sonar also arrived on Wednesday and may have more luck mapping the dive site."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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