AirAsia plane disappears with 162 people onboard

KUALA LUMPUR: AirAsia Airlines has lost contact with one of its aircraft en route from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, with 162 people onboard.

In a statement, company officials said that flight QZ8501 was carrying 155 passengers, mostly Indonesians along with three Koreans, one Singaporean, a British national and a Malaysian, as well as seven crew members.

Officials said that contact with the plane was lost around 42 minutes after it took off from Surabaya airport on a three hour journey.

The company also said in its statement that it did not have additional information on the status of the passengers and crew members on board, noting that it will continue to inform all parties as new information becomes available.

Djoko Murjatmojo, Director-General for Air Transportation at the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, said the plane was flying between the Indonesian islands of West Kalimantan and Belitung Island near Sumatra when it disappeared after contacting air traffic control with a request to increase its altitude from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid bad weather.