REPORTING FROM SINGAPORE [All times indicated are in GMT+8, unless otherwise specified]
WHAT WE NOW KNOW:
– The missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 has been found, AirAsia Indonesia and BASARNAS has confirmed collectively on Tuesday evening. Evacuation efforts focused on retrieving the passengers and crew are curently underway.
– Indonesia air traffic control (ATC) lost contact with AirAsia flight QZ8501 bound for Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia and carrying 162 people on board went missing on Sunday morning, around an hour after it left Juanda International Airport at 5:35am Indonesia time.
– Indonesian rescue personnel are descending into the water to retrieve bodies and debris found in the area, about 10km away from where the plane was last seen on the radar. Indonesia’s BASARNAS chief says three bodies have been recovered from the area so far — two female and one male.
– The plane was over the Java Sea between Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia’s part of Kalimantan island, tracked four minutes after its pilot, Captain Iriyanto, stopped responding to ATC. Iriyanto had requested at 6:12am Indonesia time to veer left (this was approved) and ascend to 38,000 feet from 32,000 feet. After Indonesia’s ATC informed the pilot at 6:14am Indonesia time of a revised height of 34,000 feet (because flight QZ8502 was cruising at 38,000 feet altitude), there was no response. The plane was then officially declared missing at 7:55am Indonesia time on Sunday.
We’ve put together the stories of some of the passengers and crew on board the plane as well.
Tuesday, 30 December
9:21pm: Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority says in its latest update that it is working with AirAsia to send 13 more next-of-kin of passengers and crew on board QZ8501 to Surabaya. It stressed, however, that it will continue providing assistance to the next-of-kin who choose to remain in Singapore.
Additionally, the landing ship tank — the RSS Persistence — has arrived at the search area, bringing the total assets Singapore has deployed in the search and evacuation effort to two C130 planes, two Super Puma helicopters and four navy ships.
The two specialist teams and their supporting equipment will also depart for the Belitung islands tomorrow morning. Singapore has additionally offered to contribute a disaster victim identification team to Surabaya.
Pentagon press secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby has confirmed in a tweet that the US is sending a second ship, the USS Fort Worth, to the scene to assist in search and recovery efforts.
Separately, Indonesia’s national search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo corrected earlier reports citing another official saying that more than 40 bodies had been recovered from the scene, saying that the count currently stands at three — two females and a male.
8:25pm: Indonesia’s ongoing attempts to recover bodies from the water where they were found have been hampered by poor weather and waves of between two and three metres in height. In a press conference, Indonesia’s search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said the waves are preventing further evacuation efforts from proceeding.
Should the waves recede and the weather improve, however, search and rescue teams will be able to use their lighting systems to continue their evacuation work, he added, although stressing that they plan to locate and retrieve the largest piece of the plane’s body tonight.
BASARNAS will locate and evacuate all bodies found to a hospital in Surabaya, where they will be identified. The black box, however, Soelistyo said, is “out of (their) hands”.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo also read out a statement saying that all search operations are bound for the area where the bodies and pieces of the plane’s wreckage were found. Aerial search has ceased as night fell but will resume alongside sea operations tomorrow.
“I’ve ordered (BASARNAS) to focus on the evacuation of passengers and crew members,” he said, while thanking search teams, fishermen and neighbouring countries for their help in the search. “We all pray that all families will be given the strength to face this tragedy.”
7:29pm: AirAsia Indonesia has confirmed in a statement just released that the debris and bodies found earlier today is from the missing flight QZ8501.
“The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th December 2014,” the statement says.
The debris was found in the Karimata Strait in South East Belitung, about 10km away from where the plane was last seen on the radar on Sunday morning.
“I am absolutely devastated,” said AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes. “This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501.”
7:04pm: Indonesian portal Detik.com reports that the bodies that are found in the search area off Pangkalan Bun will be sent to Surabaya for identification, citing police brigadier-general Arthur Tampi, chief of the Indonesian police medical center.
He said Surabaya has the necessary equipment to store the bodies, an “adequate number of personnel” and is where majority of the victims’ families are at. The next-of-kin of the passengers and crew on the missing plane will in turn be able to assist in identification, he added.
Separately, a Channel NewsAsia reporter in Surabaya said several disaster victim identification officers are waiting there to receive the bodies that have so far been recovered by the Indonesian Navy.
6:12pm: Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen said that Singapore’s ships deployed in the search area have been directed to the area where bodies and debris were found. The MV Swift Rescue, a submarine support and rescue vessel, will set sail this evening to join the ongoing rescue and retrieval operation, he added.
“The SAF will do all it can to assist Indonesia in this very difficult time. We offer our deepest sympathies to families of the passengers and crew,” he said.
6:03pm: Relatives of the passengers and crew on the missing plane were seen breaking down at the news of the debris and bodies being found near where QZ8501 was last seen on the radar.
Some fainted and were stretchered out of the holding room as well:
5:31pm: The Indonesian Navy says it has retrieved more than 40 bodies from the water so far, in a news alert.
4:48pm: Yahoo Singapore has been informed by a relative of the next-of-kin of a passenger on board the missing plane that the debris found is confirmed to be from QZ8501. They have also been told to prepare for the worst.
4:38pm: Indonesian channel TVOne has started broadcasting images of divers descending from helicopters into the water to retrieve bodies and other items that have so far been found in the area:
4:29pm: The Associated Press reports that bodies were found floating near the site where the missing plane was last seen.
Meanwhile, an air force plane spotted a “shadow” on the seabed, believed to be the missing jet.
3:59pm: Indonesia search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo says he is “95 per cent sure” that the debris found so far by search and rescue teams is from the missing AirAsia flight, announcing this in a press conference broadcasted live minutes earlier.
“The remaining 5% (doubt) is because I have yet to see for myself the emergency door and other debris,” he added. The debris, he said, were found 10km away from the spot where the plane was last seen on the radar.
He said that all debris found will be brought to the search base in Belitung, and has mobilised all resources searching the water to move toward the area where the items, and at least one body, were spotted.
He also said a boat with 11 divers from the Indonesian navy and the Indonesian search and rescue team has been sent to the exact location so they can pick up as much evidence as possible to examine.
3:28pm: The Jakarta Post quotes Indonesian aviation chief Djoko Murjatmodjo as saying that debris found by the Indonesian search and rescue team so far is confirmed to be “from an aircraft bearing red and white colours”.
2:25pm: Two images from AFP of the alleged plane debris spotted in the water:
1:58pm: Indonesian TV networks Metro TV and Kompas TV are broadcasting images of items they are alleging to resemble a plane door and an emergency slide, found in the water:
1:50pm: AFP reports that objects resembling an emergency slide and a plane door , attributing it to Indonesian air force official Agus Dwi Putranto.
“We spotted about 10 big objects and many more small white-coloured objects which we could not photograph,” he reportedly told a press conference, adding that they were found about 10km from the spot where the plane was last seen on the radar.
1:06pm: New Zealand has for the missing plane, and has dispatched a P3 Orion to Darwin where it will await instruction from search authorities. Australia has in the meantime sent off another P3 Orion aircraft loaded with specialist search equipment toward the perimeter.
12:41pm: The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips says in a series of tweets that relatives of the missing passengers and crew on board QZ8501 will on Wednesday be flown to Belitung island on a dedicated A320 jet from Surabaya’s Juanda airport to be closer to the search operations.
Various news media say there are 180 available seats on the plane, which will circle the search area to allow families to pray for their missing relatives. Leftover seats, according to The Straits Times, will be given to media.
12:00pm: Channel NewsAsia reports that there are now seven local boats and seven international craft scouring the prime search spot in the waters off Belitung.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency (BASARNAS) reportedly says two emergency signals it received were not from the missing plane.
11:44am: Indonesian pilot federation advisor Manotar Napitupulu has criticised Indonesian air traffic controllers, saying they should be more proactive in guiding pilots on their routes, CNN Indonesia reports.
He reportedly said ATCs from other countries routinely inform pilots ahead of time about obstacles in their path, such as poor weather, and guiding them in alternate directions. Manotar said, however, that Indonesian ATCs have improved in recent years.
11:17am: The Wall Street Journal reports that AirAsia had commenced the upgrading of its short-haul jets to incorporate a dedicated tracking service, but did not upgrade the plane that went missingon Sunday morning.
The report quotes Inmarsat’s vice president of external affairs Chris McLaughlin, who said that the budget carrier had started deploying satellite communications on some of its A320s that would provide position updates every two minutes, but the QZ8501 plane was not yet modified.
10:56am: AFP reports via the South China Morning Post that the two oil slicks initially spotted by an Indonesian helicopter on Monday are actually coral reefs. The report cited Indonesia’s national search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo for this detail.
10:02am: South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports that the country’s defence ministry has said itwill send a navy P-3C surveillance plane, also previously deployed in the search for the still-missing MH370 plane, to join the search later today.
“As soon as the necessary process (of coordinating air space crossing) is completed, the patrol aircraft could be sent to Indonesia Tuesday night,” it said.
9:42am: Here’s a map of the newly-expanded search area that now spans 13 sectors, courtesy of Wall Street Journal reporter Jon Ostrower:
8:40am: Two small planes have according to CNN and CBS been sent to an island within the search area where a .
Also, Channel NewsAsia reports that China is sending a naval ship and an air force plane to assist in search operations. The frigate will head to the search zone from where it is patrolling in the South China Sea, while the air force jet is coordinating a flight route over.
7:49am: Plane’s last communication with Indonesian air traffic control revealed
State navigation operator AirNav Indonesia overnight revealed the details of the last messages sent between flight QZ8501 and Indonesian air traffic control, saying that the pilot on board had not explained why he wanted to ascend to 38,000 feet.
After giving immediate approval at 6:12am Indonesia time to veer left, which the plane then did, Indonesian air traffic control could not permit the jet to rise to that altitude as AirAsia flight QZ8502 was cruising at that level. The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesian air traffic control then coordinated with its counterpart in Singapore to determine an approved 34,000 feet altitude. When they had informed the pilot of the approved height to ascend to at 6:14am, however, they did not receive any response.
It was then at 7:55am Indonesia time that the plane was officially declared missing.
Malaysian chief of navy Abdul Aziz Jaafar also tweeted a revision in allocated sectors for today’s surface search:
Rappler reports that the Philippine Navy and Air Force is also ready to send support to the search for the missing plane. A statement from the Philippine army reportedly said two C130s, two Fokker planes, one Islander and a PF-16 navy vessel are on standby for deployment.
technology designed to disperse enemy surveillance, alongside rockets, missiles and an anti-submarine helicopter., , and an are quoting a senior US military official as saying that America is sending over an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to assist in search operations. The USS Sampson is a guided missile destroyer that has superior radar
7:17am: Indonesia has in its search for the missing plane, which re-commences this morning.
“We are reviewing that request to find out how best we can meet Indonesia’s request for assistance,” said a statement from the US embassy in Jakarta. American officials have not yet said what kind of aid might be provided.
Meanwhile, overnight, Indonesian president Joko Widodo addressed a news conference, saying he has instructed his transport ministry to review their aviation procedures immediately while asking met agency officials to provide comprehensive weather forecasts to enhance airline safety.
The story from day 2:
As night fell, the second day of an ongoing international search operation produced scant evidence of the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501, which departed for Singapore from Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport on Sunday morning and dropped off the radar after about an hour of flight.
Aerial operations were suspended by about 6:45pm Indonesia time, while some 30 ships from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia continued scouring the Java sea in the northern and eastern parts of Belitung island past dusk. Another Singapore naval vessel, a landing ship tank, on Monday evening set sail for the area to join the search as well. A Singaporean submarine support and rescue vessel has been given the green light for dispatch by Indonesian authorities too.
Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla said in a press conference on Monday that a total of 15 aircraft, including helicopters, from the three countries as well as Australia, and 30 ships are involved in the hunt, which has thus far shown little result.
An object spotted by the Australian AP-3C Orion search plane on Monday to the jet, while Indonesian officials are still investigating the source of two oil slicks spotted in the search area — the spot where the oil was found lay on a shipping line, they said.
Subsequent reports then noted Indonesia’s plans to expand the hunt to the western part of Kalimantan, on land, among other areas, despite the search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo voicing his belief that radar data analysis showed the plane was likely to be .
The country’s search and rescue agency has also accepted Singapore’s offer to send two specialist teams with two underwater locator beacon detectors to the sea search area. Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority has additionally offered to send a side-scan sonar system and a robotic remotely-operated vehicle to assist the teams.
More offers of support have flowed in from countries like Britain, Japan, South Korea, China, the UK, the US, France and reportedly Russia, to back up the ongoing search effort.
On board the missing AirAsia plane are a total of 162 people — 138 adults, 16 children and one infant, making up 155 passengers along with seven crew members (two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer).
Distressed relatives gathered on Sunday and Monday at Singapore’s Changi Airport and Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, where airline and government officials met with them in various closed-door sessions. AirAsia Indonesia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes are both stationed in Surabaya to be with the families.
Singapore’s Civil Aviation Authority said a total of 27 registered passenger next-of-kin had taken up an offer to fly to Surabaya to join hundreds of other relatives waiting for updates there.
QZ8501 lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control at 7:24am Singapore time on Sunday, 42 minutes after departure and an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore.
reports that the aircraft was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontianak, in West Kalimantan on Borneo island, when it went missing
The plane stayed on its submitted flight plan route before it asked for permission to deviate to avoid “bad weather” described by officials as dense storm clouds, strong winds and lightning.
“The plane requested to the air traffic control to fly to the left side which was approved, but their request to fly to 38,000 feet level from 32,000 feet could not be approved at that time due to a traffic, there was a flight above, and five minutes later the flight disappeared from radar,”
The pilot in command, Captain Iriyanto, had a substantial total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer, Remi Emmanual Plesel, a total of 2,275 flying hours, said AirAsia, adding that the jet underwent its last scheduled maintenance on 16 November this year.
Air Asia chief Tony Fernandes confirmed the plane had been given the all-clear by aviation technicians, was in “good condition” and “has never had any problems whatsoever”.
According to Airbus, the missing A320-200 is a twin-engine single-aisle aircraft seating up to 180 passengers in a single-class configuration.
It was registered as PK-AXC and was delivered to AirAsia from the production line in October 2008. Powered by CFM 56-5B engines, it had accumulated approximately 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights.
Airbus said it would provide full assistance to authorities in charge of the investigation.
Indonesian transport minister Ignasius Jonan said on Monday that the local government will review AirAsia’s Indonesian operations in light of the ongoing disappearance.
Meanwhile, AirAsia’s stock tumbled on Monday as the markets opened, reflecting shaky investor confidence off the back of the missing flight. It recovered slightly but still closed more than 8 per cent down at the bell.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is or 031- 869 0855 or 031- 298 6790 (Surabaya).
Relatives of passengers are asked to call the following dedicated hotlines:
Singapore: +65 6307 7688
AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website at