Families of the missing passengers on board AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are now dealing with the prospect that there may be no survivors, after authorities confirmed that debris found in the Java Sea on Tuesday is of the missing plane. Authorities have so far recovered about 40 bodies from the shallow waters.
A British national, a biology teacher, a man who was about to be married, and pilots with several years of experience were on the aircraft, which disappeared Sunday.
Louise Sidharta was heading to Singapore's Changi airport to pick up her fiancé, Alain Oktavianus Siauw, who was coming from Surabaya, when she heard the news of the plane’s disappearance, CNN reported. Sidharta reportedly said that Siauw, who lives in Malang, a province in Indonesia, had planned to enjoy a family vacation before the two got married. "It was to be his last vacation with his family," she said, according to CNN.
Oei Jimmy Sentosa Winata, his wife, their 13-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter were also among the 155 passengers on board Flight QZ8501. Oei Endang Sulsilowati, Winata's sister, reportedly said that she is now waiting for information about her brother and his family.
"We don't know what to do," Sulsilowati reportedly said. "We are just waiting for news," adding that she did not initially react to the plane's disappearance as her brother usually flew on a different airline.
Choi Chi Man was reportedly traveling on the plane with his 2-year-old daughter. The British national had started a job as an executive with Indonesia-based Alstom Power, and was traveling on the aircraft as an earlier plane on Sunday was full, The Independent reported.
Reggy Ardhi, Caroline Harwon Lioe, Marianne Claudia Ardhi, Michelle Clemency Ardhi and Jayden Cruz Ardhi were traveling to Singapore to celebrate the New Year.
"It's hard to believe. Hopefully they're safe, but I don't know, we are just praying now," Yulia Wang, the principal at Surabaya Cambridge School, where Jayden, Michelle and Marianne were students said, according to CNN. "Everybody is praying, including their friends."
Michelle had reportedly sent a picture using a messaging app to a friend. The picture reportedly showed the plane’s wing with a caption, “bye Surabaya.”
Another passenger on board Flight QZ8501 was Yuni Astutik, a 40-year-old domestic worker in Singapore who was visiting Indonesia to attend a wedding last month.
Florentina Maria Widodo, a biology teacher, was also reportedly on the missing plane, and so were Park Seong Beom, a missionary in Indonesia, his wife and their 11-month-old baby, who were heading to Singapore to renew their visas, CNN reported.
"He had good local contacts and helped poor people in need," Kim Jong Heon, a spokesman for Park's church told Channel News Asia. "He was always thinking about how to meet more locals and eventually left the country to be a lay minister."
Capt. Iriyanto and first officer Remi Emmanuel Plesel were flying the Airbus 320-200. Iriyanto had more than 20,000 flying hours, of which nearly 6,000 hours were with AirAsia.
"Dad, please come home, I still need you. Please return, Dad. Dad, come home Dad. You have to come home,"Angela Anggi Ranastianis, the pilot's daughter, wrote on social media after hearing the news of the plane’s disappearance.
"I want my son to come back, alive and well," his father, Suwarto, told BBC. "But if that's not meant to be, if God doesn't want that, it's in the hands of fate."
The family had, only days ago, suffered another loss, when Iriyanto’s younger brother reportedly died of diabetes.
Plesel, who originally hailed from the French Caribbean island of Martinique, had earlier worked as an engineer for the Total oil company, but left the job to pursue his dream as a pilot.