At least 30 bodies recovered from AirAsia plane crash

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

A ten-minute warning sounds and everyone jumps into action. More bodies are on the way.

Red Cross and hospital workers run to the front of the hospital in Pangkalan Bun, not even certain how many victims are coming.

Sirens then announce the arrival of the remains of two innocent souls lost on AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

Unfortunately, this little town in Indonesia’s central Kalimantan Province has become the focal point for the recovery of bodies and debris from the airliner, which failed to complete its journey from Surabaya, the country’s second-biggest city, to Singapore on Sunday.

Orange body bags are loaded onto gurneys and rushed to a separate, private wing of the hospital. The unmistakeable smell of death lingers long after the victims have passed.

Their bodies are then cleaned and treated with chemicals to preserve them. It must be a gruesome and heartbreaking job.

Identification

This is where the initial identification effort begins.

Hospital staff assess gender, height, identifying marks and any clothing. But as time passes, the most obvious test — facial recognition — becomes increasingly difficult.

“Because they have been in the water some days, the bodies are bloated, but otherwise intact,” says Suyuti Syamsul, director at the Sultan Imanuddin Hospital.

He’s been at the hospital 24 hours a day, he tells CNN, to ensure the bodies are afforded the respect they deserve.

This hospital is not equipped for a tragedy on this scale.

They usually have three morticians. They now have 40 staff and 20 volunteers focused on treating the bodies. The facility’s other patients look on at the growing tragedy that has unfolded in this small town.

Temporary caskets are being hastily made, some literally around the corner from where the bodies are being prepared.

Respect

Syamsul says they will have 162 coffins, one for each victim of the doomed flight. He says they are paying the victims every respect possible.

Representatives of six different religions pray over the bodies before they leave. The victim’s religion may not be known, but customs must still be observed.

“Their time on earth is over,” says Pastor Sirdjon Palace. “So many of our prayers are for the family. We ask God to receive their bodies and give the families strength.”

A further six bodies arrived at Sultan Imanuddin hospital throughout Friday. Suyuti says 14 bodies have now come through the hospital so far.

As the victims’ remains are transported out by ambulance to be flown to Surabaya — for formal identification by distraught families — the hospital team takes a breath but just for a moment.

The search, to the south of Pangkalan Bun, is slow going, hampered by rough seas, which complicate the job done by divers.

With only ten victims recovered from the Java sea so far, there remain many more that will come through these gates, to be tended to by the small but dedicated group of workers here.

On standby 24 hours a day, just waiting for the next ten-minute warning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.