Missing AirAsia jet: Debris, bodies found

Indonesian officials have confirmed that debris found off the coast of the island of Borneo, including luggage, life vests and bodies, is from AirAsia flight QZ8501, which went missing early on Sunday.

The debris was located in the Karimata Strait in South East Belitung, near the last captured radar message from the missing jet. AirAsia Indonesia, in a post on its Facebook page, also said the debris was "indeed" from the plane.

The country's search and rescue agency confirmed to NBC that at least six corpses had been found, three of which had been recovered.

The news agency AFP said that a "shadow" resembling a plane had been spotted on the seabed in the same area. Indonesian television has shown footage of the recovery attempts by rescue teams and has broadcast images of objects floating in the sea.

Read MoreAirAsia: shallow seas don't mean an easy search

Tony Fernandes, the CEO of AirAsia, was one of the first to react to the news saying that his heart was "filled with sadness", and offered his condolences to the families involved.

"I am rushing to Surabaya. Whatever we can do at AirAsia we will be doing," he said on the social media site Twitter, shortly after the news. "Words cannot express how sorry I am."

Search and rescue operations are still in progress, according to a Facebook post by the airline at 11:40 a.m. GMT, and further investigations into the debris found at the location are ongoing.

The President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, conducted a short press conference after darkness fell in the city Surabaya. He told reporters that efforts on Wednesday would be to locate the rest of the bodies and thanked other Asian nations for their assistance, according to Dow Jones.

Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images

As news of the search trickled in during Tuesday morning, AirAsia said it would fly passengers' families over a patch of ocean where the plane is thought to have crashed.

The company said later that it would be inviting family members to Surabaya, where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family.

Counselors, religious and spiritual personnel have also been invited to the family center to provide any necessary services, it said.

This aerial view taken from an Indonesian search and rescue aircraft over the Java Sea shows floating debris spotted in the same area as other items being investigated by Indonesian authorities as possible objects from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 30, 2014.
Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images
This aerial view taken from an Indonesian search and rescue aircraft over the Java Sea shows floating debris spotted in the same area as other items being investigated by Indonesian authorities as possible objects from missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 30, 2014.

The missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501 was an Airbus A320-200 and had been carrying 162 people. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant and had been traveling to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia. Also on board were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crew and one engineer.

The passengers on board were mainly Indonesian with 156 nationals in total. There was also one passenger from Singapore, one from Malaysia, one from France, one from the U.K., and three from South Korea.

Indonesian officials have said that no signals had been detected from the plane's emergency locator transmitters (ETLs) and search efforts had been focused on areas northeast of Indonesia's Bangka-Belitung Islands, which are located between Singapore and Surabaya in the Java Sea. The sea depth around the islands is said to be 25 to 50 meters deep, according to Reuters.

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The search for the plane has been challenging amid difficult weather conditions—including heavy rains and thunderstorms—which are suspected to have played a role in the flight's sudden disappearance.

Just hours after debris and bodies found in the Java Sea were confirmed to have come from AirAsia Flight QZ8501, a second AirAsia jet ran into trouble after it overshot a runway while landing in the Philippines on Tuesday, forcing those aboard to disembark by emergency slides, a passenger on the plane told NBC News. There were not believed to be any injuries from the hard landing.

—NBC News and Reuters contributed to this report.

Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect that only 3 bodies have so far been retrieved by search and rescue teams. The news agency AFP has corrected earlier reports saying that there had been a miscommunication by the Indonesian Navy.