Indonesia Resumes Search For Missing AirAsia Plane As Relatives Wait

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 – Indonesia resumed the search for the missing AirAsia’s QZ8501 at 6am today, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) deputy operations chief Tatang Zainuddin told AFP. “We have resumed the search for the missing AirAsia plane at 6:00 am. We are heading to east Belitung island,” Tatang told AFP. “We are sending out four aircraft today to help locate the AirAsia plane. We hope we can find it soon. There will also be help from various search and rescue offices in the cities around the area,” he said.

“We are expecting vessels and planes from Malaysia and Singapore. We are processing the papers and hopefully they can join us in an hour at the earliest. We hope we can find the plane as soon as possible.” The Airbus A320-200 disappeared en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore, with 162 people on board, after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather. A total of 155 of those on board Flight QZ8501 were Indonesians, with three South Koreans and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France. The Frenchman was the co-pilot.

Yesterday, AirAsia Group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandessaid it is still too early to speculate on the missing Flight QZ8501. “We do not know if it’s a crash. Let’s just wait and see. We do not want to speculate. We have no idea at the moment what went wrong. “Let’s wait for the search and rescue (SAR) team to find the aircraft and then we will cooperate on a full investigation,” he told the press in Surabaya late Sunday.

Singapore said it had sent two naval vessels to help the Indonesian military look for the Airbus A320-200 operated by Indonesia AirAsia, adding to a C-130 air force plane which took part in the search yesterday. Malaysia would send three naval vessels and a C-130 to assist, Singapore’s Channel News Asia television reported. Australia, the United States, Britain, South Korea and India also offered help ranging from planes and navy ships to experts and investigators.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by this incident,” said Indonesia AirAsia chief executive Sunu Widyatmoko. “We are cooperating with the relevant authorities to the fullest extent to determine the cause of this incident.” The carrier is 49% owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier Air Asia. The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, has not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002. On board Flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain, while the co-pilot was French.

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