AirAsia Plane Likely at ‘Bottom of the Sea’

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The search for a missing airliner with 162 people aboard will expand Tuesday, the Indonesian government announced.

Four additional areas will be searched, the national search-and-rescue agency said.

Seven zones were patrolled Monday, the second day of working to find AirAsia Flight QZ8501. So far, the search has been fruitless.

The official leading the search for a missing AirAsia passenger jet carrying 162 passengers and crew members says the flight may have crashed into the sea.

“Our early conjecture is that the plane is the bottom of the sea,” according to Bambang Sulistyo, head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency.

The plane, an Airbus A320-20, was en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore when it lost contact with Indonesia air traffic control early Sunday morning. Its last known communication was a request to deviate from the planned route due to bad weather, according to a statement released on the AirAsia Facebook page.

The flight’s captain asked permission to climb to a higher altitude, according to the head of aviation at the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, quoting the national news agency.

Search and rescue operations began immediately after contact with the plane was lost. Searchers are trying to pinpoint the location of the presumed downed aircraft.

Of the passengers aboard flight QZ8501, there were 138 adults, 16 children and 1 infant, of which 149 are Indonesian, three are South Korean, one is Singaporean, one is Malaysian and one is British. There were two pilots, four crew members and one engineer on board. The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours.

GCEO and founder of AirAsia Tony Fernandes tweeted several comments including, “I as your group ceo will be there through these hard times. We will go through this terrible ordeal together and I will try to see as many of you.”

He also tweeted, “Our priority is looking after all the next of Kin for my staff and passangers (sic). We will do whatever we can. We continue to pass information aa (sic) it comes.”

Late Saturday night, White House officials released said President Obama has been briefed and will continue to monitor the situation.

The aircraft had undergone its last scheduled maintenance on November 16, according to AirAsia.

An Emergency Call Center has been set up and available for family and friends. That number is +62212927081.

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