Indonesian officials and AirAsia have confirmed that debris spotted floating in the sea by search and rescue parties is wreckage from flight QZ8501, which went missing on December 28th. Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, told AFP that planes have spotted a "shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a plane." The Indonesian Navy has also reported retrieving more than 40 bodies from the crash area.
"For the time being it can be confirmed that it’s the AirAsia plane and the transport minister will depart soon to Pangkalan Bun," Djoko Murjatmodjo, the Indonesian acting director of civil aviation, told the press agency. He added that the wreckage had been found "160 kilometres southwest of Pangkalan Bun," referring to a town in the Central Kalimantan province on the island of Borneo. "Based on the observation by search and rescue personnel, significant things have been found such as a passenger door and cargo door," said Murjatmodjo.
AirAsia Indonesia also posted a statement on Facebook confirming that the debris was from flight QZ8501, adding: "At the present time, search and rescue operations are still in progress and further investigation of the debris found at the location is still underway."
Indonesian local media said that some of the objects resembled suitcases, buoys, and aircraft debris. Officials have also reported finding "victims" near the crash site and there have been multiple reports of bodies being recovered. Twitter users have also reported that Indonesian TV station tvOne has shown images of bodies floating in the water. The Airbus A320-200 was carrying a total of 162 people and is believed to have crashed in poor weather conditions.
Following the announcement by Indonesian officials, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted that he would be "rushing to Surabaya" and offered his condolences to the families of those onboard the flight.
Fernandes added in a separate statement: "I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501."
Update Dec 30th, 7:06AM ET: This post has been updated with confirmation from AirAsia that the debris found earlier is from flight QZ8501.