The search for a missing AirAsia jet carrying 162 people that disappeared more than 24 hours ago on a flight from Indonesia to Singapore resumed with first light on Monday.
First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center commander at the Surabaya air force base, said that 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships were taking part, along with ships and planes from Singapore and Malaysia.
AirAsia Flight 8501 vanished on its way from Surabaya to Singapore. Searchers had to fight against heavy rain on Sunday before work was suspended due to darkness.
The plane’s disappearance and suspected crash caps an astonishingly tragic year for air travel in southeast Asia. The Malaysia-based carrier’s loss comes on top of the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine.
The Airbus A320 took off Sunday morning from Indonesia’s second-largest city and was about halfway to Singapore when it vanished from radar. The jet had been airborne for about 42 minutes.
The last communication between the cockpit and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (23-13 GMT on Saturday), when one of the pilots “asked to avoid clouds by turning left and going higher to 34,000 feet Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, Djoko Murjatmodjo said. The jet was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m. and was gone a minute later, he told reporters.
Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia launched a search-and-rescue operation near Belitung island in the Java Sea, the area where the airliner lost contact with the ground.
The missing aircraft was delivered to AirAsia in October 2008, and the plane had accumulated about 23,000 flight hours during some 13,600 flights, Airbus said in a statement.
The aircraft had last undergone scheduled maintenance on November 16, according to AirAsia.
The airline, which has dominated cheap travel in southeast Asia for years, flies short routes of just a few hours, connecting the region’s large cities. Recently, it has tried to expand into long-distance flying through sister airline AirAsia X.