Air Asia jet missing on way to Singapore; flight started in Indonesia

An AirAsia plane with 161 people aboard lost contact with ground control on Sunday after takeoff from Indonesia on the way to Singapore, and search and rescue operations were underway.The plane lost communication with Jakarta's air traffic control at 7:24 a.m., about an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. The contact was lost about 42 minutes after takeoff from Indonesia's Surabaya airport, Hadi Mustofa, an official of the transportation ministry told Indonesia's MetroTV.AirAsia said in a statement that the plane was an Airbus A320-200 and that search and rescue operations were in progress.The plane had six crew and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, the general manager of Surabaya's Juanda airport, Trikora Raharjo, told The Associated Press.There were six foreigners three South Koreans including an infant and one each from Singapore, British and Malaysia, said Raharjo. The rest were Indonesians, he said.The plane lost contact when it was believed to be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands, Mustofa said.He said the weather in the area was cloudy.The Singapore aviation authority said it was informed about the missing plane by Jakarta ground control about half an hour after the contact was lost."Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities," it said, adding that the Singapore air force and the navy also were activated with two C-130 planes

The search is on for AirAsia Flight 8501, which lost contact with air traffic control in Indonesia, the airline said Sunday.Flight QZ 8501 from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Sunday (7:24 p.m. Saturday ET), AirAsia said"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," AirAsia said in a statement. The plane took off with 155 passengers and crew on board, the news agency Reuters reported, citing Indonesian transport officials.The flight, an Airbus A320-200, was on its way from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, according to the airline's website.The plane left Juanda International Airport at 5:27 a.m. Sunday (5:27 p.m. Saturday ET) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 8:37 a.m. Sunday (7:37 p.m. ET), according to the website.Bad weather might have been a factor in the plane's disappearance, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said."We still had lines of very heavy thunderstorms" when the plane was flying, Van Dam said. "But keep in mind, turbulence doesn't necessarily bring down airplanes."AirAsia is a Malaysia-based airline that is popular in the region as a budget carrier. It has about 100 destinations, with subsidiaries in several Asian countries.The airline has a "very good" reputation for safety, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said.The loss of contact with the AirAsia plane comes nearly 10 months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off radar over Southeast Asia on March 8.Searchers are yet to find any debris from Flight 370, which officials believe crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

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