RAAF aircraft detects ‘something’ near QZ8501 search area
An Australian P-3C Orion reconnaissance plane has spotted “something” in the waters off Pangkalan Bun near central Kalimantan where a massive air-sea search has been mounted for the lost AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501, authorities say.
Indonesian Commando Chief Marshall Dwi Putranto said the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plane detected the object some 160km southwest of Pangkalan Bun or 1,120km from the last known location of the Airbus A320-200 that went missing on Sunday.
Indonesian news portal Detik.com quoted Dwi as saying that the authorities still do not know what the object was.
“Our aircraft are on their way to the location now from the north. Let’s wait for the latest,” he told the media in Jakarta today.
Detik.com reported that it was now cloudy where the Orion had detected the object.
The Indonesian military aircraft being despatched to the location include two Hercules, one Boeing and three helicopters.
Dwi said aircraft from Singapore and Malaysia were also part of the search operation to find QZ8501 which vanished yesterday morning with 162 people on board while flying from Surabaya to Singapore.
Indonesian authorities now believe the plane had crashed into the Java Sea in bad weather.
The Australian Orion aircraft was also involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing without a trace on March 8. – December 29, 2014.
Meanwhile, Thailand on Monday said it was ready to assist Indonesia “in any way possible” in the search for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501, which disappeared Sunday en route from Indonesia to Singapore.
“I have instructed all relevant ministries to be on standby to assist promptly in the ongoing search and rescue operations,” Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said, according to a Xinhua report.
The Airbus A320-200 aircraft with 155 passengers and seven crew members onboard went missing soon after taking off from Surabaya in Indonesia’s East Java province Sunday morning.
The aircraft was at 32,000 feet over the Java Sea in Indonesian territory when it lost contact with the air traffic control. A thunderstorm was raging in the area at that time.
No significant result has been found in the second-day search for it Monday.
An Indonesian official told the media that the missing jet was believed to have sunk to the bottom of the sea.
“At this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to all passengers and crew members of the AirAsia flight QZ8501 and their families,” Prayut said.
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