The discovery of six bodies and debris in the Java Sea today put a painful end to the mystery of AirAsia Flight 8501, which disappeared two days ago with 162 people on board.
The bodies were found about 100 miles (160km) from land and six miles (10km) from the plane's last communication with air traffic control. The plane vanished on Sunday on its way from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore after encountering storm clouds.
The six bodies were taken to an Indonesian navy ship, First Admiral Sigit Setiayanta, the Naval Aviation Centre commander at the Surabaya air force base, told reporters. The victims were not wearing life jackets.
Search and rescue teams were lowered on ropes from a hovering helicopter to recover the bodies, their efforts hindered by 6ft (2m) waves and strong winds, National Search and Rescue director SB Supriyadi told the Associated Press.
The discovery came after several pieces of red, white and black debris were spotted in the Java Sea near Borneo island. AirAsia planes are red and white.
Mr Supriyadi said that, from an aircraft above, he saw what appeared to be a life jacket and an emergency exit door. More wreckage could be seen beneath the water.
Indonesian television showed the half-naked body of a man whose shirt partially covered his head. The images sent a shockwave through family members watching together in a waiting room at Surabaya airport.
Many screamed and wailed uncontrollably, breaking down in tears while they squeezed each other. One middle-aged man collapsed and had to be taken out on a stretcher.
AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes said on Twitter: "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."
Ifan Joko, 54, said he was still hoping for a miracle. His brother, Charlie Gunawan, along with his wife, their three children and two other family members, were travelling to Singapore on the plane to see in the New Year.
"I know the plane has crashed, but I cannot believe my brother and his family are dead," he said, wiping away a tear. "We still pray they are alive."