Families Wait and Pray as Divers Search for Bodies in AirAsia QZ8501’s Fuselage

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Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN)Nunung Nursiah, whose younger brother was a flight engineer on AirAsia Flight QZ8501, says she had mixed feelings when a friend sent her a link to a photo of the plane’s fuselage submerged in the cloudy waters of the Java Sea.

“On the one hand, I was so, so sad to imagine the possibility of my brother being inside there,” she told CNN. “But on the other hand, I also felt relieved that if he is inside there, then there will be an opportunity for us to see him again for the last time.”

She and her four sisters have been waiting for news of their only brother, Saiful Rakhmad, a father of three children.

More than two weeks after the plane went down, searchers located the majority of Flight QZ8501’s fuselage on Wednesday, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said.

The discovery, made using a remotely operated underwater vehicle, has raised the prospect that many of the bodies of the 162 people aboard the flight could soon be found.

Search teams have recovered 50 bodies from the sea in the aftermath of the crash, some of them still strapped into seats.

Officials have said many of the more than 100 passengers and crew members who still aren’t unaccounted for may be inside the fuselage.

Divers looking for bodies

Divers were sent to start looking for bodies in the wreckage Thursday.

“If the bodies are still intact, they will be evacuated one by one,” said Supriyadi, an operations coordinator for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency who goes by only one name.

If the divers’ efforts prove ineffective, crews may lift the fuselage out of the water, according to Bambang Soelistyo, the head of the search and rescue agency.

Nunung said that recovering her brother’s body from the wreckage would be “better than not finding his body at all.”

After the plane went missing, Nunung initially went to the city of Surabaya, where Flight QZ8501 began its journey, to wait for news of her brother.

But she later returned to her home in Pakanbaru, a city 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away from Surabaya on a different Indonesian island.

“We, the family members, do not hold any religious rituals together, instead we individually pray to God for his best decision for us all,” she said.

Waiting for answers

Investigators are analyzing the contents of Flight QZ8501’s flight recorders, which were recovered from the sea earlier in the week.

The two devices, the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, are likely to help them figure out what went wrong on the plane as it was flying toward Singapore on December 28.

Officials say a preliminary report should be released within a month of the crash. But it’s unclear how much information the initial document will contain beyond what’s already been made public.

The final report containing investigators’ full conclusions is expected to take many more months to complete.

Nunung says she will nonetheless “keep monitoring” the situation, “because I want to know why the plane my brother was on crashed.”

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