An Indonesia AirAsia flight went missing on Sunday about half way between its origin of Surabaya in Indonesia and its destination of Singapore, an Indonesian transport official said.
The aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told a news conference.
The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, he said.
An AirAsia flight from Indonesia’s Surabaya airport to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday, a Transport Ministry official said. The Airbus 320-200 had 155 passengers and seven crew members on board.
Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 AM local time (2317 GMT), 42 minutes after takeoff at 5:35 AM.
However, the report further quoted The Bangka Pos news portal which has said that there was no confirmation of the crash site. Meanwhile, no such official confirmation has been made by the authorities so far.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted that he is on his way to Surabaya in Indonesia and will give out more information as they get it.
In the wake of the missing plane, AirAsia changed the colour of its logo to black on Twitter.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Twitter to speak about the incident. He tweeted, “Saddened to hear of missing flight #QZ8501. My thoughts are with the passengers and their families. – LHL.”
US President Barack Obama has been briefed about the situation and the White House has said that it was monitoring the situation.
The pilot of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 had reportedly requested for deviation in usual travel route before the plane lost all contact and went missing. The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, according to Reuters news report
The AirAsia statement further said that the pilot had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours.
An updated statement issued by AirAsia on Facebook states – “The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).”
An emergency call centre has been set up by the airline and friends and family of the passengers and crew can contact on +622129850801 for further information.
Meanwhile, Malaysia also offered help in the search of missing AirAsia flight which lost contact with air traffic controllers between Kalimantan and Belitung Island.
Singapore said on Sunday it has activated its Air Force and Navy to help in the search and rescue operation for the AirAsia jet that went missing on a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore.
A Facebook post by the airline further stated that at present they have “no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board.”