KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 – The Jakarta Post reported the country’s Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) on the Bangka-Belitung islands as saying that they had dispatched a vessel to search for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501. During a press conference earlier, Indonesia’s acting director-general of transportation said they were not going to make assumptions on what had happened, except that the aircraft had lost contact, as reported by AP.
Djoko Murjatmodjo said the last contact between pilot and the air traffic control (ATC) was at 6.13am “when he asked to hinder cloud by turning left and go higher to 34,000 feet”. He also said there was no distress signal from the missing aircraft. FlightRadar24.com said the last position of the aircraft was at latitude – 4.1235 and longitude 110.3821.
At that point it was 32,050 feet above sea level. Earlier, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai tweeted that QZ8501 was an Indonesian plane lost over their airspace. “We will support our counterparts as they take lead in this crisis under ICAO protocol,” he said, referring to the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), in a statement, confirmed search and rescue operations had been activated by Indonesian authorities from the Pangkal Pinang Search and Rescue office. Singapore will also aid in the efforts, saying that two C130 aircraft were already on standby.
“We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort,” the statement read. Reports have also been coming in from Indonesian news portals that the plane had crashed in the waters of Belitung. However, this cannot be confirmed as yet.
According to Bangkapos.com, the last coordinates of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, when it lost contact with Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC), was 03.22.46 south and 108.50.07 east. This was roughly 34 miles from the Nyiur Melambai beach in Manggar, Belitung East.
The Indonesian news portal also reported that fishermen in the Belitung East waters claimed they had heard something that sounded like an explosion near the Pulau Nangka waters between 7am and 8am. However, the fishermen were unsure if the sound originated from the missing aircraft.
It had reported earlier that former Navy Colonel Iwa Kartiwa said that he received a report of a plane having crashed in the waters of Belitung. In quoting Indonesia’s Meteorology Department (BMKG), weather was said to be bad in the region of the Bangka Islands in Belitung.
There was an abundance of cumulonimbus clouds in the area, which it said would make it dangerous for planes to fly through. AirAsia flight QZ8501 from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore lost contact with the Indonesian ATC at 7.24am this morning. The flight had taken off from the Juanda International Airport at 6.35am. It was carrying 155 passengers on board with 7 crew members.