AirAsia flight QZ8501
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Remi Plesel was said to be flying the plane when it disaster struck. Photo: AFP

AirAsia crash searchers may have found French co-pilot after body 'wearing uniform' is retrieved


Indonesian divers have found a body believed to be the French co-pilot who was steering an AirAsia plane when it crashed in December with 162 people onboard, an official said today.

SB Supriyadi. coordinator of the search and rescue effort, said the body was retrieved from the front part of the fuselage during a search operation on Friday.

“It is likely the body of the French co-pilot, wearing uniform with three stripes on [the] shoulder,” he told AFP, adding that the body is still being held onboard the Pacitan warship before being taken to land.

A formal confirmation will be given after the Disaster Victims Identification (DVI) team finish identifying the body, which is in poor condition, Supriyadi said.

Indonesian investigators last month said French co-pilot Remi Plesel was flying the plane before it crashed, rather than Captain Iriyanto, an experienced former fighter pilot.

Flight QZ8501 went down in stormy weather on December 28 in the Java sea during what was supposed to be a short trip from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.

Another three bodies were found near the fuselage today, after three bodies were found yesterday. 

This brings the total number of dead retrieved to 101, Supriyadi said.

Rescue services are still trying to lift the fuselage from the seabed using giant inflatable bags after earlier attempts failed.