AirAsia plane with 162 passengers onboard missing between Indonesia and Singapore

Bangkok, SANA- A Malaysian AirAsia plane with 162 people onboard lost contact on Sunday with ground control after taking off from the Indonesian city of Surabaya heading for Singapore.

The two countries immediately launched a search and rescue operation but there was no word on the plane’s whereabouts more than six hours after it went missing.

Director General of Transportation Djoko Murjatmodjo said “In addition to the 155 passengers on the plane — including 16 children and one infant — two pilots and five cabin crew members were onboard the Airbus A320-200.”

Of the nationalities on the plane, there were more than 150 Indonesians, three South Koreans, one Singaporean, one Malaysian and one French citizen, AirAsia said.

Air traffic control lost contact with the Airbus at 7:24 am on Sunday Singapore time, the airline said in a statement on its Facebook page.

“At this time, search-and-rescue operations are in progress, and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service,” the statement added.

Singapore also activated its air force and navy to assist in the search, officials said.

Contact with the plane was lost about 42 minutes after takeoff, Hadi Mustofa, an Indonesian transportation ministry official, told Indonesia’s MetroTV.

The airline said the plane had requested a “deviation” from its usual flight path because of expected weather

Malaysia-based AirAsia is one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines and it has never lost a plane before. AirAsia owns 49 percent of the Indonesian subsidiary.

This was the third air incident this year for Malaysia, which lost two Malaysia Airlines jumbo jets, one that mysteriously disappeared without a trace over the South China Sea and other exploded in air to the east of Ukraine.

R. al-Jazaeri/ Barry

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