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More Bodies, Wreckage, Recovered From AirAsia Flight

Relatives of Juanita Limantara, one of the victims of the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash, weep during the handover of her body to the family at a police hospital in Surabaya today.
Firdia Lisnawati

Updated at 9:40 a.m. ET

Four more bodies and a fifth large piece of debris have been recovered from the Java Sea near the crash site of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which went down a week ago with 162 people aboard.

The BBC quotes search-and-rescue chief Bambang Soelistyo as saying today that:

"Singapore navy vessel RSS Persistence had recovered one body, while US navy ship USS Sampson had brought three more back to the Indonesian town of Pangkalan Bun.

"Nearly 30 ships are now involved in the search operation, as well as six planes and 14 helicopters."

A Reuters photographer at the scene said bad weather was making the search difficult. He said that four divers in the water had recovered the four additional bodies.

As the search continued, relatives of the victims sang and cried at a tiny Christian chapel in Surabaya, Indonesia, where a quarter of the passengers had been members, The Associated Press said:

"Rev. Philip Mantofa, who heads the congregation at the city's Mawar Sharon Church ... urged those gathered to find comfort in their faith while embracing the reality that no one survived the disaster.

"'If God has called your child, allow me to say this: Your child is not to be pitied,' Mantofa told one Indonesian man seated in the front row. 'Your child is already in God's arms. One day, your family will be reunited in heaven.'"

Only about 10 percent of Indonesia's 250 million people are Christian in a country that is predominately Muslim.

Meanwhile, the English-language Indonesian daily The Jakarta Post writes that "leaked official documents have given rise to allegations that AirAsia Indonesia violated procedures."

The first allegation, the newspaper said, was that "the pilots of the flight had not received a required weather report" from Indonesia's national weather agency. The Post also reports that the airline did not have permission to fly the Surabaya to Singapore route on Sundays.

However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore says that approval for the flight had been granted "based on the air rights that were available under the air services deal between both countries and available landing slots at [Singapore's] Changi Airport.

The newspaper quotes AirAsia Indonesia Safety and Security Director Achmad Sadikin denying that the flight had been unauthorized.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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