Debris of the plane and the bodies of passengers have surfaced in the Java Sea, off the coast of Kalimantan, Borneo.
The Indonesian warship, Bung Tomo, has since retrieved the pieces of wreckage and the bodies of the passengers and all available ships and helicopters involved in the search mission will be redirected to the area.
Air Asia has released a statement, confirming that the debris found are connected to the missing flight QZ8501.
The Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, has asked for all of the families of the passengers to remain strong while the search continues.
AirAsia flight QZ8501, travelling from Indonesia to Singapore has been reported missing, as confirmed by the airline early this afternoon.
AirAsia Indonesia said in a statement that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning.
“At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available,” it said. The plane departed at 5.35am Indonesian time (9.35am AEDST) and was scheduled to arrive at 8.30am Singapore time (10.30am AEDST).
Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustafa said the last communication was from the pilot asking for permission to change the height from 32,000 to 34,000 feet in the Kumai Strait near Belitung due to bad weather.
General manager of Surabaya’s Juanda airport, Trikora Raharjo has confirms the flight had seven crewmembers and 155 passengers on board including 16 children and one infant.
Reports follow that 149 Indonesians, three people from Korea, and one from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia were on board. No Australians have been reported to be aboard the flight.
The Singapore aviation authority reported they were informed of the missing plane half an hour after it lost contact, stating, “Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities”.
A crisis centre has been set up at Surabaya airport where relatives of the passengers aboard the missing flight have begun arriving to view the full list of names of the passengers on board.
Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla tweeted: “We pray together with hope that the AirAsia plane QZ8501 SBY-Sin, which lost contact, is soon found and all passengers and crew have survived.”
AirAsia has tweeted that they will release further information as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website, www.airasia.com.
An emergency hotline has also been set up for the family or friends of those who may be on board. The number is +622 129 850 801.
Feature image: wikipedia.com