Search for AirAsia QZ8501 resumes, Australian aircraft aids in effort

An official from Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency in Medan points at his computer screen to the position where AirAsia flight QZ8501 went missing on December 28. Photo: AFP

The search for AirAsia flight QZ8501, which lost contact with air traffic controllers during its trip from Surabaya to Singapore yesterday morning, was resumed at dawn this morning after being suspended yesterday evening.

“We have resumed the search for the missing AirAsia plane at 6:00 am. We are heading to east Belitung island,” deputy operations chief of the national search and rescue agency Tatang Zainuddin told AFP. 

In addition to efforts by Indonesian and Singaporean authorities, Australia is also now lending their support to the search.

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) AP-3C Orion took off from the northern city of Darwin early Monday to join the operation, which is centred on the Java Sea, the Australian Defence Force said.

“The RAAF AP-3C Orion aircraft has a well proven capability in search and rescue and carries maritime search radar coupled with infra-red and electro-optical sensors to support the visual observation capabilities provided by its highly trained crew,” said chief of defence Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin..

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has pledged to help Indonesia in the search for the missing flight, calling President Joko Widodo on Sunday to offer assistance.

Abbott told Widodo Australia would do “whatever we humanly could to assist,” his office said in a statement.

Australia is already leading the search for another missing aircraft, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared in March with 239 people on board and is believed to have crashed in the remote Indian Ocean far off Australia’s west coast.

No sign of that plane has so far been found.

Reporting by AFP

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