AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 Disappears over Pacific with 162 On Board
An AirAsia Airbus A320-200 has disappeared while flying from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore, according to Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency.
AirAsia Flight QZ 8501, which according to the Associated Press was carrying 162 passengers and crew, lost contact with aviation authorities at 7:24 a.m. Sunday.
ABC News reports the plane lost contact with Surabaya Airport controllers 42 minutes after takeoff. Its location at the time was believed to be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands, according to Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa.
“At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available,” AirAsia said in a statement.
The airline added that a search and rescue operation was underway.
“Search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service,” it said.
The Straits Times reports Singapore’s RSAF will be dispatching a C130 to look for the missing plane. The Singapore navy and air force have been activated to participate in the search and rescue mission.
The cause of the flight’s disappearance has not yet been determined, but bad weather was reported in the vicinity of the incident.
“The weather was not good — it was bad — at the estimated location the plane lost contact,” said Mustofa. “We just received a weather report from the national meteorological, geophysics and climatology agency.”
Mustofa also said the plane had requested to take an unusual flight path due to severe weather just before contact was lost.
Reuters reports the nationalities of the passengers and crew are: 149 Indonesians, three Koreans and one each from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia. There were 138 adults, 16 children and a baby on board, Singapore Transport Ministry spokesman J.A. Barata told Agence France-Presse.
A waiting area staffed by a crisis support team has been set up at Singapore’s Changi Airport, where the missing plane had been scheduled to arrive. AirAsia has also established an emergency call center for family and friends of those who may have been aboard Flight QZ 8501. The number is +622 1298-50801.
AirAsia is a Malaysian budget airline founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1993.
The disappearance marks the third major aviation incident involving Malaysia-based airlines this year. On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China with 239 passengers and crew aboard.
It was the deadliest aviation incident in Malaysian history until Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17. All 298 passengers and crew aboard the flight were killed.