AirAsia Flight 8501 Search Suspended In Indonesia



Aircraft and ships that spent several hours searching Indonesian waters turned up no sign of an AirAsia plane that disappeared Sunday with 162 people on board in airspace possibly thick with dense storm clouds, strong winds and lightning, officials said.

Aircraft searching for AirAsia Flight 8501 called off the effort for the night and will resume at Monday morning, said Achmad Toha of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency. Some ships were continuing the search overnight, he said.

The plane took off Sunday morning from Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city, and was about halfway to its destination, Singapore, when it vanished from radar.

The last communication between the pilot and air traffic control was at 6:13 a.m. (2313 GMT Saturday), when the pilot “asked to avoid clouds by turning left and going higher to 34,000 feet (10,360 meters).” It was last seen on radar at 6:16 a.m., and a minute later was no longer there, Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, told reporters.

CBS News Aviation and Safety Expert Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, said it’s too early to tell whether there is a rescue or recovery operation underway.

“What we do know is that the airplane by this time of course would have exhausted its fuel supply and would have reached the surface of the Earth. We don’t know exactly where or in what shape,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

More than 12 hours later, shocked family members huddled at the Surabaya airport from where the Airbus A320 had taken off, awaiting any news of the jetliner.

Air Asia group CEO Tony Fernandes flew to Surabaya and said at a press conference that that the focus should be on the search and the families.

“We have no idea at the moment what went wrong,” said Fernandes, a Malaysian businessman who founded the regional low-cost carrier in 2001. “Let’s not speculate at the moment.”

Read more at CBS NEWS.

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