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AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 to Singapore missing

An AirAsia Indonesia airliner flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board has lost contact with air traffic control:

Flight QZ8501 went missing at around 06:20 local time (23:20 GMT).

The plane, an Airbus A320-200, disappeared midway into the flight of more than two hours and no distress call was issued.

Indonesian military planes and aircraft from Singapore are searching an area of the Java Sea.

The flight left the Indonesian city of Surabaya in eastern Java at 05:20 local time (22:20 GMT) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 08:30 (00:30 GMT).

The missing jet had requested a “deviation” from the flight path due to bad weather, AirAsia said.

Indonesia’s transport ministry said the pilot had asked permission to climb to 38,000 ft (11,000m) to avoid thick cloud.

AirAsia, a budget airline which owns 49% of AirAsia Indonesia, is based in Malaysia and has never lost a plane.

However, 2014 has been a difficult year for aviation in Asia: Malaysia’s national carrier Malaysia Airlines has suffered two losses – flights MH370 and MH17.

Flight MH370 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March with 239 passengers and crew. The wreckage, thought to be in southern Indian Ocean, has still not been located.

MH17 was shot down over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 on board.

The flight was supposed to arrive early this morning. Hours later the families of the passengers gathered here have very little information.

Airport officials are keeping them well away from the media and trying to make them comfortable.

The AirAsia incident comes at the end of a difficult year for air travellers in the region, and the scenes at Changi airport today are reminiscent of those in Kuala Lumpur immediately after MH370 went missing in March: anxious relatives waiting for any news on their loves ones, a media frenzy, but no answers.

 

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Source: bbc.com

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