JAKARTA: Indonesia resumed a sea and aerial search at dawn Monday for an AirAsia plane that went missing in the Java Sea with 162 people on board, an official said, as anguished relatives waited desperately for news.
“We have resumed the search for the missing AirAsia plane at 6:00 am (2300 GMT Sunday). We are heading to east Belitung island,” Tatang Zainuddin, deputy operations chief of Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) told Agence France-Presse.
“We are expecting vessels and planes from Malaysia and Singapore (to assist in the search). We hope we can find the plane as soon as possible,” Zainuddin said.
The Airbus A320-200 disappeared en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.
Five aircraft will be sent to search for the plane, including two C130 military transport aircraft and a Boeing 737, Indonesian air force spokesman Hadi Cahyanto told Agence France-Presse.
“Two planes have already left. Three more will follow suit. It is cloudy in some parts but still bright,” Cahyanto said.
“We are focusing the search area in the waters on the eastern and northern part of Belitung island.”
Officials had called off the search as night fell on Sunday evening, around 11 hours after the plane went missing.
AirAsia said 155 of those on board flight QZ8501 were Indonesians, with three South Koreans and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia, Britain and France. The Frenchman was the co-pilot.