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Search Resumes For Missing AirAsia Flight With 162 Aboard

A relative of AirAsia flight QZ8501 passengers weeps as she waits for the latest news on the missing jetliner at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Dec. 28, 2014.
Associated Press
A relative of AirAsia flight QZ8501 passengers weeps as she waits for the latest news on the missing jetliner at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Dec. 28, 2014.

Ships and planes have resumed the search for AirAsia flight QZ8501, which lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday. Search efforts were suspended overnight, and picked up again at dawn.

The flight, traveling from Indonesia to Singapore, lost contact at 7:24 a.m. local time, AirAsia said on its Facebook page; that's about an hour before it was due to land. The airline, a low-cost regional carrier, said 155 passengers and 7 crew members were on board the Airbus A320.

Shortly before losing contact, the pilot had asked to change course due to weather conditions.

At a news briefing Sunday, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes emphasized that the airline does not know what happened. "For the moment, we don't want to speculate," he said.

"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this incident," AirAsia Indonesia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko said in a statement. It's the first time the carrier has lost a flight, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.

The Associated Press explains that this is the latest in a series of aircraft tragedies this year in Southeast Asia: "The Malaysia-based carrier's loss comes on top of the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July over Ukraine."

But an air crash search and rescue expert warned against connecting the disappearance of flight MH370 to flight QZ8501, telling The Associated Press that there is more information available about where Flight 8501 disappeared.

The initial search for the plane was hampered by rain and temporarily called off when night fell; it resumed after dawn on Monday morning.

AP reports that First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, the Naval Aviation Center Commander at the Surabaya air force base, says visibility is good, and ships, planes and helicopters are all searching for signs of the plane.

"God willing, we can find it soon," Setiayana says.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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