AirAsia Flight With 161 Passengers Aboard Missing in Indonesia

The budget carrier confirms the flight lost contact with ground control after takeoff from Indonesia on the way to Singapore.

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An Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-200 passenger prepares to land at Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta in this January 30, 2013 file picture.
An Indonesia AirAsia Airbus A320-200 passenger prepares to land at Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta in this January 30, 2013 file picture.Credit: Reuters

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.

The aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, air transportation director at the Transport Ministry, told a news conference.

The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds, he said.

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. Initial reports said seven crew were on board.

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.

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