Tragically, an AirAsia plane carrying 162 on board heading from Surabaya to Singapore disappeared on Dec. 28. Now, in even more devastating news for the passengers’ families, the search and rescue efforts have been suspended.
More than 16 hours after an AirAsia Indonesia jet disappeared from radar after encountering nasty weather heading to Singapore, the families and friends of 162 people onboard are still tormented with worry about their loved ones. Search and rescue operations using planes and ships were started but were forced to end their mission until the morning of Dec. 29.
AirAsia Plane Missing: Search & Rescue Efforts Suspended
The AirAsia Flight QZ8501 took off at 5:35 a.m. on Dec. 28 from Surabaya and was set to land in Singapore at 8:30 a.m, according to ABC News. The plane lost contact with air traffic control at 6:17 a.m near Belitung Island, Indonesia.
There is 860 miles between Surabaya and Singapore. Both air and water search efforts were deployed. Planes returned to their base on the night of Dec. 28, but some ships remained in the area where the plane is believed to have disappeared, an official said, according to USA Today.
One hundred and sixty two people were onboard that flight, including 138 adults and 17 children.
The pilot requested to divert the flight’s path and increase altitude from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to “avoid clouds.” Thunderstorms were reported in the area up to 50,000 feet.
Ground control in Jakarta approved the pilot’s request to change the plane’s course but not the request to raise elevation, Indonesian Air Transport Director Djoko Murjatmodjo said in a news conference on Dec. 28.
Djoko said the plane’s fuel would have been exhausted by the time of the news conference. Wreckage was reportedly spotted east of Belitung Island in the Java Sea, according to an unconfirmed claim.
This is the third plane air incident in the Malaysia area this year. In March 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 lost contact with air traffic after taking off from Kuala Lumpur. The plane has yet to be found. In July 2014, a Malaysian Airlines jet was shot down while traveling over Ukraine. All 298 were killed on board.
Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those onboard the AirAsia. We are hoping and praying for answers.
— Avery Thompson