REPORTING FROM SINGAPORE [All times indicated are in GMT+8, unless otherwise specified]
WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR:
– AirAsia flight QZ8501 bound for Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia and carrying 162 people on board went missing on Sunday morning.
– Contact with the plane was lost around an hour after departure, somewhere over the Java Sea between Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan island. This happened a few minutes after the pilot requested to Indonesia’s air traffic control — but was declined — to fly higher to avoid stormy weather.
– Ongoing search and rescue operations with military assets deployed from Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and most recently Australia resumed on Monday morning scouring both the land and sea area in the northern and eastern parts of Belitung island.
Monday, 29 December:
11:30am: Singapore’s second C130 search plane will depart to join the search at around noon, while a third navy ship — a landing ship tank — will set sail for Indonesia this evening, said Singapore’s defence minister Ng Eng Hen.
10:47am: Here are the assets deployed in the search for the missing aircraft so far:
- From Indonesia: 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and 200 personnel deployed over four sectors on Sunday
- From Singapore: Two C130 planes, two ships (one Formidable-class frigate and one missile corvette)
- From Malaysia: Three navy ships, three aircraft
- From Australia: One Australian Air Force AP-3C Orion search plane
10:36am: The Indonesian chief of the ongoing search operation for flight QZ8501 says the plane is likely to be “at the bottom of the sea”.
9:53am: South Korea has said it plans to send a surveillance plane this week to join the ongoing search for the missing plane, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Overnight, Queens’ Park Rangers players observed a moment of silence on the pitch ahead of their English Premier League match against Crystal Palace in London. The team is chaired by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.
8:45am: This morning’s QZ8501 flight, plying the same route, took off from Surabaya at 5:42am Indonesia time and landed safely in Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 8:35am Singapore time. Earlier this morning, Singapore’s first C130 took off to join the ongoing search, after spending two hours on Sunday evening scouring the area. A second one will be deployed at around noon.
Indonesian air force spokesperson Hadi Cahyanto told AFP that the search is now focused on the eastern and northern parts of the Belitung island.
8:20am: Australia has joined the ongoing search for the missing aircraft, sending one AP-3C Orion to assist in operations.
Singapore’s second Defence Minister Chan Chun Sing sent off two ships — the RSS Supreme, a Formidable-class frigate, and the RSS Valour, a Missile corvette — on Sunday evening at 11:55pm Singapore time, to assist in the search. Two Singapore Air Force C130s have taken off this morning in ongoing operations, restarted by Indonesia on Monday. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post that the ships will take a day to arrive at the search area.
The full story:
Indonesia air traffic control lost contact with AirAsia flight QZ8501 bound for Singapore from the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Sunday morning.
Earlier, AirAsia released a statement listing 162 people on board, with 138 adults, 16 children and one infant making up 155 passengers along with seven crew members (two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer).
The passengers comprise one Singaporean, one Malaysian, one British, three South Koreans and 149 Indonesians, while the crew consists of six Indonesians and one French (the co-pilot). See the full manifest here.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) confirmed that the Singaporean on board the missing flight is a two year-old girl travelling with her father, the British national.
Among distressed relatives in Singapore’s Changi Airport and Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport is 25-year-old Louise Sidharta, whose fiancé, believed to be an Alain Oktavianus listed on the passenger manifest, was on the flight to spend a vacation with her before they were to marry in May,reports Bloomberg.
South Korean media reported that one of three of the Koreans on board is Park Sung-beom, a missionary from a church in Yeosu. YTN says he was carrying out mission work at Malangwi near Surabaya. His wife and infant daughter are believed to be with him on the plane.
Others at Changi had either stayed at the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel or had left for home on Sunday night, while 16 had taken up an offer to fly to Surabaya to join hundreds of other relatives waiting for updates there.
QZ8501 lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control at 7:55am local time, 42 minutes after departure and an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore.
The plane was on the submitted flight plan route before it asked for permission to deviate to avoid “bad weather” described by officials as dense storm clouds, strong winds and lightning.
“The plane requested to the air traffic control to fly to the left side which was approved, but their request to fly to 38,000 feet level from 32,000 feet could not be approved at that time due to a traffic, there was a flight above, and five minutes later the flight disappeared from radar,” said an Indonesian air transport official.
Air Asia chief Tony Fernandes confirmed the plane had been given the all-clear by aviation technicians, was in “good condition” and “has never had any problems whatsoever”.
A C130 plane was deployed by the Republic of Singapore Air Force on Sunday afternoon, while two Republic of Singapore Navy vessels, a Formidable-class frigate and a Missile corvette, were sent off at 11:55pm Another C130 is due to join the search on Monday morning. Australia has dispatched one AP-3C Orion from Darwin as well.
In a statement late Sunday afternoon, the CAAS said that the next-of-kin of the Singaporean on board were contacted and were at the Changi Airport Relatives Holding Area (RHA).
“They are being provided with all necessary assistance and support,” CAAS said. “Assistance and support are likewise being provided to the relatives and friends of affected passengers who are at the RHA.”
According to the Changi Airport Group, as of 6:30pm on Sunday, 47 relatives and friends of 57 passengers on board the missing flight registered at the holding area.
“Help and support are being provided to them at the RHA by 36 Changi Airport Group (CAG) care officers and four counsellors from the Ministry of Social and Famiy Development,” it said, adding that other staff from AirAsia, airport partners and officials from the Indonesia embassy in Singapore were also assisting. The relatives had all left the holding area by 9pm on Sunday.
It was registered as PK-AXC and was delivered to AirAsia from the production line in October 2008. Powered by CFM 56-5B engines, it had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights.
Airbus said it would provide full assistance to authorities in charge of the investigation.
Meanwhile, AirAsia’s stock tumbled on Monday as the markets opened, reflecting shaky investor confidence off the back of the missing flight.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.
AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website at www.airasia.com.
(Correction: This article initially identified the aircraft as an A380. It is an A320.)