Search and rescue operations are underway for an AirAsia plane that lost contact with air traffic control after takeoff from Indonesia on a flight to Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority reports. As many as 162 were on board.
The plane lost contact about an hour before it was due to arrive in Singapore. It was scheduled to land at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday), Hadi Mustofa, an official with the Indonesian air ministry, said on Indonesia’s MetroTV.
Mustofa added that the plane had asked for an unusual routing just before losing contact with air traffic controllers, Michael Sullivan reports for NPR.
AirAsia reports on its Facebook page, “AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning.”
The plane, flight QZ8501 from Surabaya, Indonesia, was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.
The airline has set up an emergency call center for family and friends of those who may be on board.
The Associated Press says the plane has six crew members and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant. Three passengers are South Koreans, one British and one Malaysian; the rest are from Indonesia.
Mustofa told the media that the plane lost contact when it was believed to be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands. The weather in the area was cloudy, he said.
AirAsia, a budget carrier, has never lost a flight before, AP says.
AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes tweeted: