Indonesia, Singapore lead search ops for AirAsia plane
JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Indonesian military, as well as Search and Rescue (SAR) teams from both Indonesia and Singapore, will be leading operations to find the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.
AirAsia earlier confirmed on Sunday, December 28, that it had lost contact with the Airbus A320-200, which was en route to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia.
The plane had on board 155 passengers, 2 pilots, and 5 cabin crew, according to the airline. (READ: AirAsia QZ8501: Emergency information)
In a press briefing, Indonesian Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan said the plane was last detected near Tanjung Pandan, Belitung, "not far from the coast line."
He added the Indonesian military and search and rescue team, as well as Singapore's search and rescue team, were spearheading the efforts.
“Rescue and search operation is underway by the Indonesian military, Indonesian SAR team, and Singaporean search and rescue team.”
The Indonesian air force said two of its planes had been dispatched to scour an area of the Java Sea, southwest of Pangkalan Bun in Kalimantan province.
"The weather is cloudy and the area is surrounded by sea. We are still on our way so we won't make an assumption on what happened to the plane," said Indonesian air force spokesman Hadi Cahyanto.
Transport Ministry official Djoko Murdjatmodjo said search efforts were being focused on an area between Belitung island and Kalimantan, on the western side of the island of Borneo, about halfway along the expected route of Flight QZ8501.
The prime ministers of Singapore and Malaysia earlier pledged to assist the Indonesian government in search and rescue operations for the missing flight.
“Sorry to learn that an AirAsia aircraft from Surabaya to Singapore has gone missing. We don't have many details yet, but have offered our help to the Indonesian authorities. Our thoughts are with the passengers and their families,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post.
Lee added in a later post that he has contacted Indonesian President Joko Widodo "to express concern and offer help.
"An RSAF C-130 search and rescue aircraft is on standby, ready to go. Our ministers are following up," Lee added.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, meanwhile, told reporters his government would assist AirAsia as well, according to a report on Malaysia’s The Star.
Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has also offered help to Indonesia. #QZ8501
In its latest statement, AirAsia said search and rescue operations led by The Indonesia of Civil Aviation Authority were already underway. “AirAsia Indonesia is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way,” the Malaysia-based AirAsia Group added. – Abdul Qowi Bastian, Bea Cupin, with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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