Update as of 5:25 a.m. EDT: The first two bodies recovered from the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 crash site arrived at a military airbase at Surabaya's Juanda International Airport on Wednesday, where relatives of those on board the aircraft have been waiting since the plane went missing Sunday morning, according to the BBC.
A body was found Wednesday, from the search site, with a life jacket on, an official for Indonesia's search and rescue agency said, giving rise to speculation over the final moments of the aircraft. The plane went missing with 162 people on board, while flying from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore's Changi International Airport.
Authorities said that the seven bodies recovered so far were intact, and some were fully clothed. The fact that a person had a life jacket on indicated that those on board were either alive after the plane hit the water and before it sank, or the passengers aboard the plane had some time to don life vests before it crashed. However, the discovery of the body also raised questions over why the pilots did not issue a distress signal.
"This morning, we recovered a total of four bodies and one of them was wearing a life jacket," Tatang Zaenudin, an official with the search and rescue agency, told Reuters. Authorities in Surabaya were making preparations to identify the bodies as relatives submitted DNA samples.
According to The Associated Press, which cited aviation experts, if bodies were found fully clothed, it could mean that they emerged after the plane hit the water while fewer clothing on a body would suggest it was thrown out in midair. Other clues such as signs of blunt force trauma or death from rapid decompression could also provide clues to the plane's final moments.
Officials also claimed Wednesday that they had located the plane’s wreckage on the floor of the Java Sea using sonar equipment. However, the flight data and cockpit voice recorders, which could help determine what caused the crash, are yet to be found. Meanwhile, bad weather has hampered the recovery of other victims, while authorities reportedly said that rough seas were moving debris away from the crash site.
"It seems all the wreckage found has drifted more than 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) from yesterday's location," Vice Air Marshal Sunarbowo Sandi, a search and rescue coordinator in Pangkalan Bun on Borneo island, said Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. "We are expecting those bodies will end up on beaches."
Indonesia's meteorology and geophysics agency reportedly predicted that weather conditions would worsen through Friday. The flight disappeared after it asked for a change of altitude to avoid bad weather and is presumed to have crashed into the relatively shallow Java Sea.
"The fact that the debris appears fairly contained suggests the aircraft broke up when it hit the water, rather than in the air," Neil Hansford, a former pilot and chairman of consultancy firm Strategic Aviation Solutions, told Reuters.