The search for AirAsia Flight QZ8501 drew to a close Tuesday as Indonesian President Joko Widodo and search and rescue authorities confirmed the plane wreckage had been found during a press conference in Surabaya, Indonesia, at 7 a.m. Eastern time. The airline said that Indonesian rescuers had found debris, bodies, and luggage floating in the sea, and later confirmed that those items belonged to the missing plane.
Widodo said the search and rescue operations would continue, and that finding passengers and crew was a priority, according to BBC’s live coverage. He thanked all the countries in the region for their help in the search, and said he shared the feelings of those who had lost relatives in the plane crash. Widodo urged them to be strong during the crisis. "I pray for your strength in facing this tragedy,” he said.
The Indonesian president was light on details during the press conference and didn't offer any possible reasons for the crash. The press conference ended 30 minutes after it started, and the president didn't take any questions.
"I had just came back from the search location a couple of hours ago and saw the situation for myself," he said. "First thing tomorrow morning, all ships and helicopters will carry out a massive operation to carry out the retrieval process."
AirAsia Flight QZ8501's disappearance on Sunday led to a frantic search in the Java Sea, with many drawing parallels to the Malaysian Airlines MH370 disappearance earlier this year. However, unlike the Malaysian Airlines flight, which hasn't been found, the AirAsia search ended successfully after just three days.
Upon the confirmation of the wreckage, AirAsia posted an official statement of the incident on its Facebook page. Rescuers said they were “95 percent sure” that the bodies and luggage that they first found floating in the sea belonged to QZ8501, and confirmed it shortly later. Early news coverage of the discovery included distressing images of floating bodies, prompting an outcry on social media to not include such images.