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Bodies, Debris Spotted In Java Sea


And we have an update now on the search for that jetliner that went missing over the weekend. AirAsia says they can confirm now that debris and bodies found in the sea off the coast of Indonesia are from that missing plane, which had 162 people on board.

For the latest, we're joined by NPR's Anthony Kuhn who's been following this from Beijing. And, Anthony, what exactly has been found in the waters, and does this now put to rest any doubt about whether this was the plane?

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Everybody seems pretty sure about it right now, David. AirAsia is citing Indonesia's search and rescue authorities who confirm that what they found was indeed the plane that went missing on Sunday. They say that the plane went down in the Java Sea off the southwest coast of the island of Borneo. Earlier in the day, Indonesian media showed pictures of debris with the red and white colors of AirAsia and bodies being recovered. Now the search and rescue efforts will proceed to find the plane, which is believed to be in fairly shallow waters off that coast of Borneo.

GREENE: And I guess, you know, the people following this news closer than anyone would be relatives of people on board who, if they had been holding out any slim hope, I mean, it's probably gone now.

KUHN: That's right. There were about a hundred friends and family members who were gathered waiting for news at the airport in Surabaya, Indonesia's second city where the flight originated. And they had to watch pictures on TV of bodies being recovered. And many of them were just overcome with grief on the scene. Recently Indonesian President Joko Widodo and also the CEO of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, have been at the airport offering condolences and saying that taking care of them is now first priority.

GREENE: Well, are they getting any explanation for what might have happened to this plane?

KUHN: There is still not a concrete explanation for what happened. The crew on this flight was very experienced. The airplane was only 6 years old, relatively new. And it was a short hop - a two-hour flight over very well-traveled route. But weather conditions were not good. And the pilot requested to climb to a higher altitude to avoid storm clouds, but there were other planes at that altitude, and so permission was denied.

GREENE: All right. That's NPR's Anthony Kuhn talking to us about bodies and debris being discovered off the coast of Indonesia, now being confirmed as from that plane that went missing over the weekend. Anthony, thank you.

KUHN: You're welcome, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.