REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – It was the end of the second day of an ongoing international search operation for the missing Air Asia Flight QZ 8501, and the jetliner has yet to be found. And now, the possibility of finding survivors has dimmed, as Indonesian authorities have announced that the plane is now probably at the bottom of the sea.
The aircraft, owned by a Malaysian-based company, was en route from Indonesia to Singapore on Sunday morning. It was carrying over 160 passengers and crew, most of them Indonesian. No Filipinos were on board, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.
The pilot of the plane requested a course change due to bad weather, but did not send any distress call. Soon after that, contact was lost.
Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Group CEO said, “We are very devastated by what’s happened. We do not know what’s happened yet. So we wait for the accident investigation to find out what’s happened. The weather conditions were not good, but further than that we don’t want to speculate on anything at all.”
Mary Schiavo, a CNN aviation analyst said a terrorism angle is unlikely. She explained, “Given it was extremely bad weather, the chances of this being some sort of a terrorist activity are very small, because most terrorist activities take place in good weather. For example, 9/11 — a perfectly clear day; several other attacks. So, I would look to something perhaps at this point weather related.”
Indonesian officials said search efforts will continue despite rough weather conditions, and that many countries have offered to help. This is the third major incident this year, involving airlines linked to Malaysia.
In March, 239 people went missing from Malaysia Air flight 370, which was traveling from Malaysia to Beijing.
And in July, all 298 people aboard Malaysia Air flight 17 were killed when it was shot down over rebel-held territory in Ukraine.
The White House said President Barack Obama has been briefed and is getting constant updates on the search for the missing AirAsia flight. Indonesia has formally asked the United States for help in the search and officials said a process is underway to determine what may be needed.