AirAsia: Search pilots first thought bodies 'waving'

SEARCH pilots who flew over the floating wreckage of the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 thought bodies floating in the sea were alive and waving at the aircraft, a pilot has said.

Lt. Tri Wibowo, an airforce Hercules C-130 pilot said he and his crew had had a glimmer of hope that the passengers of the plane could be alive.

"We thought that the passengers were still alive and waved at us for help," he told local news outlet "But when we approached closer [we saw] they were already dead."

The plane was flying over the wreckage at around 11am local time.

AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes took to Twitter to express his sadness after the discovery of the wreckage.

"I am rushing to Surabaya. Whatever we can do at Airasia we will be doing," he tweeted.

"My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am."

The Malaysian entrepreneur is a well-known figure and was instrumental in lobbying for 'open skies' legislation in south east Asia which made low cost airlines viable in the region.

Debris found off the coast of Borneo is likely to be missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, Indonesian officials have confirmed amid reports that several swollen bodies of victims have been recovered.

Around 10 objects have been found in the Java Sea, roughly six miles from where the plane lost contact with air traffic control, including what Indonesian air force officials claim are items resembling a plane door and emergency slide.