The head of the search and rescue team for AirAsia flight QZ8501 which disappeared while flying from Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, Indonesia to Singapore on Sunday, revealed to Channel News Asia that search operations are confined to the Banga island, Belitung island and Lang Teng island, which are the areas most likely to contain wreckage from the aircraft, based on where it was last in contact with ground control. Indonesian officials reported there were 162 passengers on board.

The Belitung island is an area where fishermen claimed they had heard objects hit the island. A source told the Indonesian authorities that they saw a plane crash on Sunday. However, there is no formal confirmation from the concerned authority yet. Rescue teams featuring three helicopters, three airplanes, 11 vessels and several more fishing boats were gathered to prepare for the search of the missing aircraft.

Staff at the search and rescue team assumed and assessed, using the latest information source with consideration for different surrounding factors, that there is a possibility that the jet airliner might have sunk and it is at the bottom of the sea.

Meanwhile, officials in Indonesia added further that after disappearing from the radar and losing contact with air traffic control over ten hours, it is highly likely that the aircraft might have met with an accident.

An Indonesian Army spokesperson made a statement during a press conference earlier today, saying that the Army had sent five search planes to search for the missing aircraft, particularly around the eastern and northern sides of the Belitung Island. “Weather conditions in some areas are very cloudy but that is not an obstacle,” he said. Meanwhile, the Australian Air Force had even sent search planes from Darwin city, northern Australia early this morning on a search mission.

Moreover, the U.S., China and South Korea have also offered assistance in this search mission.

By Panthep Pande