Heartbroken friends and relatives — joined by hundreds of ordinary Indonesians — held candles and prayed Wednesday night for the 162 people aboard AirAsia Flight 8501 in a somber observance in Surabaya, which canceled New Year's celebrations as the country's second-largest city mourned. Mayor Tri Rismaharini led a moment of silence, saying, "Let us pray this will be the last tragedy for Surabaya."
Other major cities, including Jakarta, scaled back their festivities and included remembrances for the victims of the crash in the Java Sea. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the governor of Jakarta, the nation's capital and largest city, personally distributed electric candles to hundreds of people who gathered at a memorial for the AirAsia victims and the 32 people who died in a landslide in Banjarnegara two weeks ago.
Seven victims of the crash have been recovered, including a woman wearing an AirAsia cabin crew uniform, along with a life raft. Budiyono, medical chief for the Java Police disaster victims identification chief for the East Java police, said the bodies were in good condition, so identifications are likely to be determined quickly.
As divers, ships and helicopters continued to comb the Java Sea, the chief of the nation's navy, Abdul Aziz Jaafar, said Thursday that the search area had been more than doubled, to 15,500 square nautical miles, after rescue teams said Wednesday that they believed sonar had found the plane on the seabed in water 100 to 165 feet deep. But bad weather remained a problem Thursday. BMKG, the national weather agency, forecast moderate to heavy rain in the search area, with waves reaching almost 10 feet.
At a briefing for reporters Thursday, Toos Sanitiyoso, an investigator with Indonesia's National Committee for Transportation Safety, said crews had heard nothing from the planes "black box" data recorders. He said he hoped the recorders could be found within a week.
- Families Cling to Hope as Victim Identification Gets Underway
- 'Lousy' Visibility: Bad Weather Stalls AirAsia Search
- A Deadly Year for Flying, But Air Safety Remains High