Jet Carrying 162 Passengers Goes Missing Over Java Sea
Bad weather was reported in the region; search operations have been largely suspended for the night
A jet carrying 162 people went missing early Sunday over the Java Sea. According to news reports, the AirAsia plane, an Airbus A320-200, was flying from Indonesia to Singapore and lost contact with air traffic control about 42 minutes after takeoff. No distress call was made.
Bad weather including dense storm clouds, heavy wind, and lightening was reported in the area, and an air search operation has now been suspended for the night.
According to the Associated Press:
Aircraft searching for AirAsia Flight 8501 called off the effort for the night and will resume at Monday morning, said Achmad Toha of Indonesia's search and rescue agency. Some ships were continuing the search overnight, he said.
The plane took off Sunday morning from Surabaya, Indonesia's second-largest city, and was about halfway to its destination, Singapore, when it vanished from radar.
The last communication between the pilot and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (2313 GMT Saturday), when the pilot 'asked to avoid clouds by turning left and going higher to 34,000 feet (10,360 meters).' It was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m., and a minute later was no longer there, Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia's acting director general of transportation, told reporters.
Agence France-Press reports that hundreds of Indonesians descended on the Juanda International Airport near Surabaya, East Java, on Sunday hoping for news of the missing flight.
AirAsia's Chief Executive Tony Fernandes, who has flown to Surabaya, told the BBC: "We don't want to speculate but right now of course the plane has been missing for 12 hours and there's a deep sense of depression here."