AIR ASIAThe search is continuing for AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501, a day after it went missing with 162 people on board.

Highlights:

  • The Airbus A320-200 disappeared early on Sunday on a routine flight to Singapore
  • The search was largely suspended as night fell on Sunday
  • There were 155 passengers on board consisting of 137 adults, 17 children and one infant
  • The AirAsia Indonesia plane in question was delivered in 2008, has flown 13,600 times, completing 23,000 hours, and underwent its last maintenance on 16 November

Details

The head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency has said that available information indicates that the plane could be at the bottom of the sea.

However, no evidence has so far been found of the plane’s whereabouts.

Officials in Surabaya, from where the plane took off, said search teams were only just reaching the area of the Java Sea where the plane is believed to be.

Distraught relatives have been waiting for news at the Surabaya international airport in Indonesia.

The Airbus A320-200 disappeared early on Sunday on a routine flight to Singapore.

The pilots had requested a course change due to bad weather but did not send any distress call before the plane disappeared from radar screens.

“Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, told a press conference in Jakarta.

That search, near Belitung Island, was largely suspended as night fell on Sunday.

Although some ships continued the hunt overnight, the main search planes and vessels, from several nations, only resumed at first light on Monday.

Logistics

Mr Soelistyo said Indonesia was providing 12 ships, three helicopters and five military aircraft.

Indonesian transport ministry official Tatang Kurniadi said: “Our primary task is to find the plane. We are co-operating with every possible department, and relevant countries.

“This includes the department responsible for aircraft design, the aircraft manufacturer from France, and relevant operational teams from AirAsia and Malaysia.”

Malaysia was to deploy a C-130 plane, along with three ships, with Singapore lending a C-130 and Australia also providing help.

AirAsia’s share price fell 7% in morning trading on Monday in Kuala Lumpur.

The AirAsia group has previously had no fatal accidents involving its aircraft, but Indonesian transport minister Ignasius Jonan said the country would be reviewing all its operations “to ensure that all of its activities are better in the future”.

AirAsia has set up an emergency line for family or friends of those who may be on board. The number is +622 129 850 801.

Special centres were set up at both Singapore’s Changi airport and Juanda international airport in Surabaya.

The BBC reports that there were 155 passengers on board, the company said in a statement:

  • 137 adults, 17 children and one infant
  • Most were Indonesian but several were from other countries: one UK national, a Malaysian, a Singaporean and three South Koreans
  • Two pilots and 5 crew were also on board – 1 French, the others Indonesian

Related mishaps

This has been a difficult year for aviation in Asia: Malaysia’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines has suffered two losses – flights MH370 and MH17.

Flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew. The wreckage, thought to be in southern Indian Ocean, has still not been located.

MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

NP/BBC

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