Three bodies have been recovered from the sea in the search for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.

A navy spokesman yesterday claimed that more than 40 bodies had been retrieved, but this statement was later retracted and branded a miscommunication by staff.

“Today we evacuated three bodies,” Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyon has clarified, “and they are now in the warship Bung Tomo.”

The ABC reports that bodies were discovered after an Indonesian air force plane spotted items resembling an emergency slide, plane door and other objects earlier in the day. AirAsia then released a statement confirming the debris was from flight QZ8501.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo assured the media that all available ships and helicopters will be deployed to the area where the debris was found, and has urged families of the passengers and crew to “be strong as they faced this difficult moment”.

Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on Indonesian television, causing several relatives of the missing to collapse in grief at a crisis centre in Surabaya.

No doubt this story will develop further today.