AirAsia QZ 8501: Emergency information (as of 2:30 pm +0800 GMT)
JAKARTA, Indonesia (7th UPDATE) – Rescuers scoured the Java Sea on Sunday, December 28, for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people which went missing in bad weather en route from Indonesia to Singapore, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.
AirAsia flight QZ 8501 on a routine flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore went missing early Sunday morning, the airline said.
“AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning,” AirAsia said.
It was due to land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at around 8:30 am Singapore time, after departing from Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport at around 5:30 am local time.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the plane lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control while it was in Indonesian air space.
Shortly before disappearing, AirAsia said the plane had asked permission from Jakarta air traffic control to deviate from its flight plan and climb above bad weather in an area noted for severe thunderstorms.
“The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to en route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC),” the airline said in an updated statement. (READ: Missing AirAsia flight asked to ‘deviate’ due to bad weather)
The search operations have been halted at nightfall but they are hoping to resume early Monday, December 29, transport ministry official Hadi Mustofa said.
QZ 8501 was an Airbus A320-200, with the registration number PK-AXC, and the airline said “search and rescue operations are in progress.” AirAsia is “cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service,” which is under the guidance of the Indonesian Civil Aviation Authority. (READ: Indonesia, Singapore lead search ops for AirAsia plane)
The flight had 155 passengers and 7 crew members (two pilots, an engineer, and 4 flight attendants) on board, AirAsia said, with nationalities as follows:
- 156 Indonesians
- 3 South Koreans
- 1 Malaysian
- 1 French
- 1 Singaporean
An updated statement from Air Asia said that the passengers were 137 adults, 17 children, and a baby.
Britain has confirmed one of its citizens was onboard the jet. It was not yet confirmed whether they had dual nationality.
Initial reports show that there are no Filipinos onboard the flight.
“The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours,” the airline said.
It also said that the aircraft in use last underwent scheduled maintenance last November 16.
For relatives and friends of the passengers onboard, the airline said they can contact the Emergency Call Centre at +622129270811 for assistance.
The Singaporean government’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) has been activated to help the Indonesian authorities in the operations, while the Crisis Management Centres have also been activated by the CAAS and the Changi Airport Group.
Around 11 hours after it disappeared, Indonesian air force jets had yet to find any signs of the Airbus A320-200, with dusk fast approaching and fuel running low.
Two Indonesia air force planes and a helicopter were searching the waters around the islands of Bangka and Belitung in the Java Sea, near Kalimanten island.
“We have not been able to visually detect any signs,” said air force spokesman Hadi Cahyanto. Search boats were still on their way to the area, around halfway along the missing aircraft’s expected flight path, he said.
“The weather is quite good. However, we only have a few hours more to go as our fuel will run out. By then it will also get dark… the planes will have to return to Jakarta,” he added.
A Singaporean C-130 military transport aircraft was also deployed, after Indonesia accepted help from its Southeast Asian neighbour, while Malaysia said it had committed “military assets” to the search. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com