Airplane disappeared with 162 people on board

An AirAsia flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control after take-off, the airline has said, as a search-and-rescue operation kicked off in the third air incident connected to Malaysia’s aviation industry, Al Jzeera reports.

AirAsia, a regional low-cost carrier with presence in several Southeast Asian countries, said in a statement that the missing plane was an Airbus A320-200 with 162 people on board, and was supposed to land in Singapore at 8:30am local time on Sunday.

Flight QZ8501 was carrying 155 passengers, most of them Indonesians, AirAsia said in a statement. Sixteen children and one infant were among the passengers. The plane had an Indonesian captain and a French co-pilot and five cabin crew.

“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,” the Malaysia-based airline said in a statement on Facebook.`

The statement added that the pilots requested “deviation due to en route weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control”.

The airline said it had established an emergency call centre for family or friends of those who were travelling on the aircraft.

The aircraft lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17am (2317 GMT) local time, Hadi Mustofa, Indonesia’s transport ministry official, told reporters.

The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30am (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was “delayed”.

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