SINGAPORE: An AirAsia flight with 162 people aboard reportedly went missing this morning after its takeoff from Indonesia on the way to Singapore.
Flight QZ 8501, an Airbus 320-200, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower at 6:17 a.m. (2317 GMT), Indonesian transport ministry official Hadi Mustofa told media.
The flight from Surabaya to Singapore was to land at 8.30 am local time.
The Kuala Lumpur-based airlines said a search-and-rescue operation had been launched. Mustofa said the plane had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact.
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
Indonesian media said 149 Indonesians, three people from Korea, and one each from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia are on board.
Among the passengers, 138 are adults, 16 children and a baby.
In a post on Facebook, AirAsia gave the following statement:
AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning.
At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available.
The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.
At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.
AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.
AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website.
The incident comes at the end of a disastrous year for Malaysia's airlines. National flag carrier Malaysia Airlines lost two aircraft this year.
Its flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.
On July 17, Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.