Rescuers scouring Indonesian waters for an AirAsia plane that went missing with 162 people aboard had turned up no sign of the missing jet more than 10 hours after it lost contact with air-traffic control, officials said Sunday.
After hours of scouring the Java Sea, Indonesia authorities called off the aerial search for the night. Achmad Toha of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said some ships in the area would continue looking for the missing plane overnight, according to The Associated Press.
AirAsia Indonesia Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control at around 7:24 a.m. local time on Sunday after requesting a course change due to bad weather while en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation said there had been no distress signal from the cockpit of the Airbus A320-200.
“We hope we can find the location of the plane as soon as possible, and we hope that God will give us guidance to find it,” Djoko Murjatmodjo told reporters. “We don’t dare to presume what has happened except that it has lost contact.”
The flight had 155 passengers on board, including 16 children and one infant, and two pilots and five crew members, the airline said. Most on board were Indonesian though there were around six foreigners — including three South Koreans, a British national, a Singapore national and a Malaysian. A French national was part of the crew, according to AirAsia.
AirAsia said in a statement that the pilot — who has a total of 6,100 flying hours — had asked to change course because of weather.
“The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost,” the airline said, adding that the missing plane last underwent maintenance on Nov. 16.
Forecasters told NBC News that “numerous showers and hail” littered the missing jet’s flight path.
Airbus confirmed in a statement that the plane was delivered to AirAsia in October 2008 and that it had accumulated about 23,000 flight hours in some 13,600 flights.
Indonesia’s Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan told reporters in Surabaya that search-and-rescue efforts now involved the Indonesian army, the national Search and Rescue Agency as well as Singapore and Malaysia, according to The Associated Press. The Search and Rescue Agency’s operation chief, Maj. Gen. Tatang Zaenudin, said 200 rescuers had been deployed to the east side of Belitung island, the AP reported. Singapore’s military confirmed to NBC News that it had deployed a C-130 plane to assist in search and rescue efforts.
— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Read more at NBCNews.com.