Malaysia’s AirAsia flight with 162 onboard goes missing

Jakarta, Dec 28 (IANS) A Singapore-bound AirAsia flight carrying, with 162 people onboard, from Indonesia lost contact with air traffic control (ATC) Sunday.

The AirAsia flight QZ8501 took off at 5.20 a.m. from Indonesian city of Surabaya and was scheduled to land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8.30 a.m., Metro TV reported.
The plane lost contact somewhere between Kalimantan and Belitung island, a transport ministry official Hadi Mustofa Djuraid said, adding that the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.
“The weather was not good, it was bad at the estimated location the plane lost contact. We just received a weather report from the national meteorological, geophysics and climatology agency,” the official added.
Tatang Zainudin of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency said that the pilot might have faced extreme weather conditions.
According to Indonesia’s transport ministry, QZ8501 flight is carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members on board, including one Singaporean, one British, one Malaysian, three Koreans and 149 Indonesians.
“At present, we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board,” The Straits Times quoted an airline statement as saying
“Search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service,” the statement added.
The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysia’s airlines. National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year. Its flight MH370 went missing March 8 enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.