AirAsia has confirmed that flight QZ8501 has gone missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore, along with its 162 passengers.
UPDATE: AirAsia has issued another statement, correcting the nationality breakdown of passengers and crew the company released earlier in the day.
It turns out the initial, unsubstantiated reports were correct — there is one British passenger on the list, alongside one Singaporean, one Malaysian, three South Koreans and 149 Indonesians.
Of the seven crew members, one is French and the rest are Indonesian.
Updated information will be posted on the AirAsia website as it becomes available.
UPDATE: AirAsia Indonesia has released an updated statement that confirms the missing aircraft made a request to deviate from its usual route before it lost contact with air traffic control.
A statement on the airline’s Facebook page says the aircraft “was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).”
The updated statement claims that 157 of the passengers and crew onboard are Indonesian nationals, one is Singaporean, one is Malaysian and three are South Korean. Earlier reports that a Briton was among the missing appear to be incorrect.
EARLIER: AirAsia has confirmed the commercial flight lost contact with air traffic control shortly after take off this morning.
“At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board,” the statement reads, “but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available.
“At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.”
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact at 07:24hrs this morning http://t.co/WomRQuzcPO
— AirAsia (@AirAsia) December 28, 2014
The A320 aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17am local time (9:17am AEDT), over an hour before its scheduled landing.
Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa told Indonesian news channel Metro TV that the flight lost contact somewhere between Kalimantan and Belitung Island, shortly after its pilots requested an “unusual route”.
In a statement, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency said the plane’s last known coordinates were around the Gulf of Kumai.
There are believed to be 162 people on board (155 passengers and seven crew members). Of the 155 passengers, it is understood that 149 are Indonesian, three are Korean, one is Singaporean, one is British and one is Malaysian. 16 of the passengers are reportedly children and one is an infant.
An emergency call centre is available for friends and family of those on board the aircraft. Call +622129850801 for assistance.