Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 may have been found as Indonesian search crews believe they located the site where the flight and its 162 passengers and crew crashed in the ocean.
The flight lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control while en route to Singapore on Sunday. The pilots had asked to change course to avoid some bad weather, but the plane never sent a distress signal before being lost to radar. The flight had 162 people on board, including 155 passengers and seven crew members.
As the search widened on Sunday, reports began circulating that crash site for AirAsia flight QZ8501 had been found near East Belitung.
“We received information from Basarnas in Jakarta that contact had been lost with an AirAsia flight over Bangka Belitung waters at 6:17 a.m. local time. We then dispatched a vessel with a search and rescue team of 22 members to check the information,” Febi Imam Saputra, an information official at Basarnas Bangka Belitung, said as quoted by Antara news agency in Pangkalpinang on Sunday.
Saputra added that the flight went missing at 03.22.46 South and 108.50.07 East.
“If we look at the map, these coordinates refer to an area around 20 nautical miles from East Belitung,” said Febi.
But officials in Malaysia debunked the reports, saying that AirAsia flight QZ8501 remains missing.
“Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai has dismissed claims that flight QZ8501 has been found,” ChannelNewsAsia reported.
The search for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 has widened, with several countries joining in to locate the missing plane. Merdeka.com reported that Jakarta deployed seven ships and a helicopter for the search and locate operations. Singapore has also deployed one C-130 plane, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement.
The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Though there was bad weather on the plane’s route from Indonesia to Singapore including lightning strikes, one pilot with experience in the region said that should not have taken the plane down.
“Lightning cannot take out a plane,” pilot Elmo Jayawardena told ChannelNewsAsia.
As reports that AirAsia flight QZ8501 had been found still circulated, the Indonesian navy said that no wreckage was yet found, adding that visibility in the search zone was very narrow.
[Image via Yahoo News]