JAKARTA: Debris spotted during an aerial search for Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 is likely from the missing plane, said Indonesia’s director-general of civil aviation, as rescue teams also reported sightings that resembled bodies.
Djoko Murjatmodjo was quoted as saying that “for the time being, it can be confirmed that it’s the AirAsia plane".
A navy chief spokesman told reporters separately on Tuesday that the "crew had visual of people at sea surface, not far from the debris."
"We are checking whether the people are still alive," navy spokesman Manahan Simorangkir told TVOne.
Items resembling an emergency slide and plane door were spotted during an aerial search east of where flight QZ8501 was last detected on Sunday.
“We spotted about 10 big objects and many more small white-coloured objects which we could not photograph,” Indonesian Air Vice Marshall Agus Dwi Putranto told reporters in Pangkalan Bun in central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
“The position is 10km from the location where the plane was last captured by radar,” he said.
Local television showed him displaying 10 photos of objects resembling a plane door, emergency slide, and a box-like object.
Search vessels and aircraft are now heading to the area, officials said.
The latest developments came as Indonesian authorities expanded the search operation for the plane which went missing with 162 people on board.
Flight QZ8501 vanished from the radar screens on Sunday morning over the Java Sea about 40 minutes after taking off from Surabaya to Singapore.
The aircraft had reportedly requested to deviate from its original flight path to avoid thick clouds and rise to a height of 38,000 feet from the initial height of 32,000 feet.
Indonesian air traffic control lost contact with the plane at 6.24am (Western Indonesian time, an hour behind Malaysian time) as it was flying with 155 passengers and seven crew members. - Singapore Straits Times/ANN