Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The search for AirAsia QZ8501 continues, but without results. Bambang Soelistyo, the Head of Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency, said that based on the plane's coordinates and the bureau's evaluation, the aircraft may at the bottom of the Sea of Java. In the early afternoon an Australian surveillance plane detected some objects in the sea.
Many distraught family members of those on board gathered at the airports in Surabaya and Singapore waiting for news. AirAsia has set up an emergency line for family or friends. The number is +622 129 850 801. During the Angelus yesterday, Pope Francis expressed his closeness and affection for family members of the victims of the disaster and prayed for those engaged in rescue operations.
The AirAsia passenger flight, an Airbus 320-200, took off yesterday morning from Surabaya and was due to arrive in Singapore. At a certain point the pilot sent a radio message requesting to climb higher, to 11 thousand meters, to avoid dense storm clouds. Immediately afterwards the plane disappeared from the radar.
The search for the aircraft continued throughout the day yesterday. It was mostly suspended during the night except for some vessels which continued in their operations. At dawn all ships and reconnaissance planes resumed the search.
The vanished airplane carried 155 passengers: 137 adults, 17 children and a baby. Most of them are from Indonesia, but there is also a Briton, a Malaysian, a Singaporean and three South Koreans. The crew consisted of two pilots and five crew members, all Indonesians except for the French co-pilot.
AirAsia is a low-cost airline based in Malaysia. QZ8501 had been flying for only six years completing 26 thousand hours. It underwent a technical maintenance inspection on November 16.
2014 was a difficult year for aircraft in Asia. Last March a Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 passengers on board disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
Another Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down and crashed while flying over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.