Another plane goes missing…

Air search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 on way from Indonesia to Singapore suspended due to nightfall

 

The flight carrying seven crew and 155 passengers lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Singapore time after lifting off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya, officials said. The Airbus A320-200 requested ‘deviation due to enroute weather’ before it vanished, AirAsia said in a statement.

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An AirAsia plane with 162 people aboard vanished early Sunday amid a cluster of thunderstorms after taking off from Indonesia on a flight to Singapore.

The search and rescue mission by air was suspended due to nightfall and will resume Monday morning local time, airline officials said. However, an official said some ships were still in the area.

The flight carrying seven crew and 155 passengers lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Singapore time after lifting off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya about 50 minutes earlier, officials said.

The passengers include 138 adults, 16 children and one infant.

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The Airbus A320-200 “was on the submitted flight plan route but was requesting deviation due to enroute weather” before it vanished, AirAsia said in a statement.

Thunderstorms were reported in the area around the time the plane lost contact, according to CNN.

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“At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service, ” AirAsia said in a post on its Facebook page.

Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said Flight QZ8501 had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact over the Java Sea between the Kalimantan and Java islands.

Tatang Zainudin, of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, told local TV that the pilot might have encountered extreme weather, according to the Straits Times.

There were no Americans believed to be onboard, but President Obama was briefed on the incident, the White House said.

The passenger and crew breakdown, according to the airline, is: one Singaporean, one Frenchman, one Malaysian, three South Koreans and 156 Indonesians.

The captain commanding the plane had a total of 6,100 flying hours while the first officer had racked up a total of 2,275 flying hours, the airline said. The plane had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on Nov. 16, it added.

The flight was expected to arrive at Singapore Changi Airport at 8:20 a.m., according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

The Singapore aviation authority said it was informed about the missing plane by Jakarta ground control about 30 minutes after contact was lost. “Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities,” it said.

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The Singapore air force and the navy, along with two C-130 planes, were also joining in the search.

The Airbus A320 is the same plane that Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed safely on the Hudson River in Jan. 2009.

AirAsia, a popular budget carrier that has never lost a plane, changed its logos on Facebook and Twitter from red to gray after the disappearance.

The incident marks the second time this year that a passenger jet vanished over a body of water.

Malaysia Air Flight 370 disappeared in March with 239 passengers and crew on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane, despite an expansive multi-nation search, has yet to be found.

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