Missing AirAsia flight: India puts 3 ships, plane on standby; China `closely monitoring`

The Changi International Airport

New Delhi, Dec 28: India has put on standby three ships and a maritime surveillance aircraft for assistance in the search operation after an AirAsia flight with 162 people on board on Friday went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore.

According to sources, Indian Navy has put on standby one ship in Bay of Bengal and another two in Andaman Sea. Besides, a P-8I aircraft has also been put on standby. The aircraft is used for maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare operations.

The sources further said: “The assets have been put on standby in view of the gravity of situation. They will be rushed into service as and when any order is issued.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also called Indonesian President Joko Widodo to express concern and pledged assistance of air force in the search of Air Asia plane which went missing after losing contact with air traffic controller.

The plane with 162 passengers and crew on board went missing on a flight from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore this morning.

Singapore reportedly activated its air force and navy to help in the search and rescue operation for the AirAsia jet.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement, “Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose. We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort.”

The statement said that a waiting area, and facilities and support have been set up for relatives at Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Meanwhile, China said it is “closely monitoring” the developments regarding the AirAsia flight that went missing.

China is deeply worried about the safety of the passengers and crew and offers condolences to their families.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, said in a statement, “We are closely monitoring developments in missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.”

Earlier in the day, Indonesian Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa told media, the AirAsia flight lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 am (6.17 pm EST).

Indonesian media said 149 Indonesians, three people from Korea, and one each from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia were on board.

The flight had been due in Singapore at 8:30 a.m. Singapore time (0030 GMT). The Singapore airport said on its website the status of the flight was “delayed”.

National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year. Its flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

(With Agency Inputs)

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