AIRASIA FLIGHT MISSING, 162 People Onboard

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An AirAsia flight traveling from Surabaya, in Indonesia, to Singapore with 162 people on board lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday morning, the airline confirmed. The Huffington Post reports:

Indonesia quickly launched a search to locate the missing plane, but by Sunday night,most search and rescue operations were halted for the day, the plane still unaccounted for.

Flight QZ 8501 — an Airbus 320-200 — lost communication with Indonesia’s Surabaya Juanda International Airport at 7:24 Singapore time on Sunday morning, the airline said. The plane “was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” AirAsia said in a statement.

“The weather was not good — it was bad — at the estimated location the plane lost contact,” Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustafa said. Mustafa said the plane lost contact somewhere between Kalimantan on Borneo island and Belitung island, about 42 minutes after the jet took off. AirAsia Indonesia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko said that the airline is “deeply shocked and saddened” by the disappearance.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this incident,” he said in a Facebook post. “We are cooperating with the relevant authorities to the fullest extent to determine the cause of this incident. In the meantime, our main priority is keeping the families of our passengers and colleagues informed on the latest developments.”

The ministry’s air transportation director Joko Muryo Atmodjo said no distress signal had been sent, adding, “Therefore we cannot assume anything yet.”

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