AirAsia plane crash: First funeral held; bad weather hampers search

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Pangkalan Bun (Indonesia), Jan 1: Relatives held the first funeral for a victim of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 on Friday as bad weather hampered efforts to locate the wreckage of the plane which crashed in the sea off Borneo with 162 aboard.

The first funeral took place this afternoon after one of the bodies was formally identified as a woman named Hayati Lutfiah Hami, and was handed over to her family in Indonesia's second city of Surabaya.

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After prayers at her home, the coffin was taken for burial at a Muslim cemetery nearby, with more than a hundred neighbours in attendance.

"I am grateful to God that my sister-in-law was found and I hope the rescuers find the others as soon as possible," Agung Wahyu Darmono, 38, said.

Police said they were still working on formal identification of one young man. Nine bodies have so far been retrieved in the search for the Airbus A320-200, which disappeared from radar during a storm Sunday en route from Surabaya to Singapore.

Search officials said the return of rough weather was hindering efforts to locate the plane and the rest of the bodies. "The problem we faced today is unfriendly weather conditions," search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo told a press conference.

"The waves were between three and four metres."

A crisis centre for identifying the victims has been set up at a hospital in Surabaya with facilities to store 150 bodies.

Of the 162 passengers and crew on board Flight QZ8501, 155 were Indonesian, with three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one Briton and a Frenchman -- co-pilot Remi Plesel.

The plane was operated by AirAsia Indonesia, a unit of Malaysia-based AirAsia, which previously had a solid safety record.

PTI

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