Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501: Timeline of events running up to disappearance

Searchers saw objects earlier today, after latest south-east Asian flight went missing on Sunday

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The Independent Online

The AirAsia flight left Indonesia's Surabaya airport just after 5.30am local time yesterday with 162 people on board. Among the 155 passengers are 16 children and one infant. The seven crew are made up of two pilots, four flight attendants and one engineer.

A Briton named as Chi Man Choi was on the flight. The rest of those on board are Indonesian, South Korean, Malaysian, Singaporean and French.

The Airbus A320-200 last made contact with air traffic control officials around 45 minutes later. The pilot had asked for permission to fly at a height of 38,000ft in order to avoid clouds, Djoko Murjatmodjo, the acting director general of transportation in Indonesia, said.

The plane was on the agreed flight route, AirAsia said. It is thought to have gone missing somewhere over the Java Sea between Tanjung Pandan on Belitung island and Pontianak, on Indonesia's part of Borneo island.


Indonesia's weather agency said dense storm clouds were detected up to 44,000ft in the area around the time the plane lost contact with air traffic control.

A huge search operation involving 12 navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships got underway yesterday. It was suspended a number of hours later due to poor visibility but resumed this morning.

At a press conference this morning search and rescue officials said the plane could have crashed and be at the bottom of the sea. 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."

Airline boss Tony Fernandes travelled to Surabaya on hearing the news of the missing plane. The British-Malaysian businessman, who owns Premier League football team Queens Park Rangers, today met search and rescue officials in Indonesia's capital city Jakarta.

He planned to return to Surbaya to be with the families of the passengers and crew. He has appealed to people not to speculate on the cause of the incident, and thanked everyone for their support.

Press Association