An AirAsia plane traveling from Indonesia to Singapore vanished from air traffic control detection early Sunday morning and officials are scrambling to figure out what happened to the plane.
There are 162 passengers and crew on board the AirAsia QZ 8501 flight, traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore. The plane went missing over the Java Sea, and before it vanished, the pilot asked to change the flight path because of stormy weather.
Accuweather meteorologists said the flight path was hit by thunderstorms. "The storms in the area were capable of producing severe turbulence, strong wind shear, frequent lightning and icing," senior meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
The search for flight QZ 8501 was suspended Sunday night local time as darkness fell.
According to the airline, the passengers include 149 people from Indonesia, three from South Korea and one each from Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom. There are six crew members from Indonesia and one from France.
The passengers included 16 children and one infant, AirAsia officials added.
AirAsia released scant information via the airline's Facebook page:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning.
At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.
At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.
AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website, www.airasia.com.
The Airbus 320-200 flying had last undergone maintenance on Nov. 16.
Singapore's aviation authority put out its own release, saying the plane was in Indonesian air traffic control when it went missing. Singaporean authorities learned of the lost contact a half-hour later.
The situation is already causing deja vu for Twitter users connecting the missing plane to the ongoing mystery disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in March and was never recovered.
How on earth can a flight go missing?Malaysia is the common link for the 3rd time this year.Weird? God help the travellers onboard. #AirAsia— Vedant (@LosBlancos9248) December 28, 2014