Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501: 'Insufficient evidence' sea objects were from missing plane

Possible debris spotted by Australian search planes could not be confirmed

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There is “insufficient evidence” that objects spotted in the sea by planes hunting for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 are from the missing jet, authorities have said.

Unidentified debris was spotted by Australian planes in an area where the Airbus A320 disappeared yesterday with 162 people on board, sparking an investigation by nearby ships.

Speaking at a press conference today, Indonesia's Vice President, Jusuf Kalla, said there was “insufficient evidence” it was related to QZ8501.

“It has been checked and no sufficient evidence was found to confirm what was reported," the AFP news agency quoted him saying.

He confirmed there was no distress signal sent by the flight and communications were normal until they cut out as it flew from Surabaya, in Indonesia, to Singapore.

A relative looks to a list of passengers of Air Asia missing plane at Juanda Airport, Surabaya, Indonesia

Planes and ships from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia are scouring the Java Sea for any trace of the plane today, as relatives wait anxiously for news at a crisis centre set up at Juanda Airport.

Oil slicks were also being investigated for links to the aircraft but authorities cautioned that the search area was also on a busy shipping route.

Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister of Australia, has discouraged any comparisons between the latest tragedy and the Malaysia Airlines MH370 disaster in March, saying he believed the plane crashed in "horrific" storms.

“I think it would be a big mistake to equate what has happened here with MH370,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Henry Bambang Soelistyo, of the National Search and Rescue, said: “Based on the co-ordinates that we know, the evaluation would be that any estimated crash position is in the sea, and that the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea.”

A British national, named as Chi Man Choi, is among those on board the plane according to reports of the passenger manifest.

He is thought to have been travelling with his daughter, Zoe, on tickets bought on Boxing Day.

Twelve navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships are searching an area of east and south-east Belitung island and nearby waters, said First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, of the Naval Aviation Centre Command at the Surabaya air force base.

“God willing, we can find it soon,” he added.

Additional reporting by PA