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AirAsia boss promises prompt redress to kin
Published:  Dec 30, 2014 1:13 AM
Updated: Jan 23, 2015 11:31 PM

QZ8501 AirAsia's Surabaya-Singapore flight carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members on board went missing on Sunday morning.

The Airbus 320-200 took off from Surabaya in Java, Indonesia, at 5.20am local time (6.20am Malaysian time) and was due to arrive in Singapore two hours later, but it lost contact with air traffic control.

Search and rescue (SAR) efforts have since been launched by the Indonesian authorities, which later today confirmed finding the crash site in the Karimata Straits between Belitung Island and Kalimantan.

Malaysiakini brings you the live updates of information as it comes in.

Latest developments

  • AirAsia boss promises prompt compensation

  • Plane's debris and bodies found
  • QZ8501 not fitted with tracking tech

  • US Navy sending ship to help

  • Search area has been expanded and revised

    10pm: Aviation experts suggest QZ8501 may have been flying too slow and stalled, leading to the fatal crash on Sunday.


    According to a Singapore Straits Times (ST) report today, aviation expert and editor of Geoffrey Thomas believes the pilots while climbing in altitude to avoid the storm they were facing may have induced an "aerodynamic stall" similar to the Air France AF447 that crashed in 2009.


    The report also cites Indonesian aviation consultant Gerry Soejatman tweeting on Sunday after seeing a leaked photo of the air traffic control screen of the flight, “QZ8501 ended up at 36,300ft and climbing, but ground speed is only 353 knots! Uh oh!"


    ST quotes Thomas telling Australia's Herald Sun he thinks the plane is “100 knots too slow for the altitude he is flying at”.


    QZ8501 was initially flying at 32,000 feet and contacted air traffic control in Jakarta at 6.12am local time requesting to fly at 38,000 feet and to deviate to the left to avoid heavy clouds.

    9.45pm: Plane maker Airbus says it will work with investigators to help find the cause of the crash, reports Reuters .


    "Airbus has been informed by the Indonesian authorities that the accident site of flight QZ 8501 has been located," says the company in a statement.  


    "With safety as its prime concern, Airbus reaffirms its full commitment to provide all necessary technical assistance to the investigation authorities in order to establish the cause of this tragic accident."  


    The investigation is being led by the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee, with help from international agencies. 

    A great sadness, says MAS


    9.17pm: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) extends its heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathies to all families and friends of the passengers on board QZ8501.


    In a statement today reported by Bernama , MAS says it encourages everyone to stay strong during this extremely trying period and to respect the grieving families.


    "As an airline that recently experienced great sadness, we stand in solidarity to offer our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by this tragedy and with the team at AirAsia.

    "This is indeed a sad time for everyone working in the aviation industry and for all guests who fly," it adds.

    AirAsia chief promises prompt compensation


    9.03pm: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes vows his airline will not shy away from its obligations over the loss of its aircraft.


    He says the passengers' kin are facing a "horrific" experience and it is AirAsia's duty to support them.


    "We are prepared and will not run away from any obligations. We will consider them seriously," he says in a press conference in Surabaya, Indonesia.


    He adds compensation will be paid out to the families.


    "We will be providing the financial assistance immediately. We will obliged and not hide behind any conventions.


    "This incident is a scar with me for the rest of my life, and I hope there is closure in knowing what happened," he says.


    He also refuses to speculate on the cause of the incident until the aircraft's black boxes are found.


    Fernandes adds he hopes AirAsia will rise back from this disaster.

    Erroneous figure due to miscommunication

    8.50pm: Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo refutes an Indonesia Navy spokesperson's statement that 40 bodies have been recovered by the Indonesian warship Bung Tomo, reports Channel News Asia .

    Bambang says only three dead has been recovered - two male and one female - reports the TV station.

    He adds that the erroneous figure is due to miscommunication.

    Jokowi orders 'large scale' search

    8:17pm: Indonesian President Joko Widodo orders a "large-scale" operation to recover victims of the AirAsia plane crash, reports dpa .

    "Our priority is to evacuate all passengers and crew of the plane," Joko says at Juanda Airport in Surabaya.

    AirAsia confirms QZ8501 found

    7.50pm: AirAsia Indonesia confirms that the ill-fated QZ8501 has been found in the Karimata Straits, around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

    "AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Republic of Indonesia confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501," it says in a statement.

    The airline says its officials have been deployed to the site and will be cooperating with authorities on the investigation.

    In light of the new development, AirAsia Indonesia says it will also be flying family members to Surabaya and a dedicated team of care-givers will be assigned to each family.

    AirAsia CEO 'devastated by news'

    7.50pm: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes says he is devastated by the news.

    “I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the well-being of the family members of those onboard QZ8501," he says.

    Fernandes thanked the Indonesian government for finding the plane swiftly.

    "Until we have the investigation (report), we can't determine what went wrong.

    "All I can say is that the weather in Southeast Asia is bad. There are floods in Malaysia and Thailand. We have to look at this more carefully.

    "Let's focus on the evacuation. If we have a lot of families there (search and rescue site), it is going to complicate the situation. So we should focus on moving them back to Surabaya."

    AirAsia Indonesia chief executive officer Sunu Widyatmoko says, "We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances. We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues."

    Meanwhile, TV3 reports that the serial number of oxygen containers retrieved from the debris site is indeed that of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

    AirAsia jet overshoots runway in Philiippines

    7.37pm: AirAsia Zest's Flight Z2272 overshoots its runway after landing at Kalibo International Airport in the Philippines in bad weather.

    Several passengers post photographs of the Airbus A320 which is seen parked on grass instead of the tarmac.

    A passenger, Jet Damazo Santos, says passengers had to disembark the aircraft using the emergency slides.

    "Nobody seems to be hurt. Weather was bad... Plane came to a very abrupt stop. Engine was shut immediately.

    “We were told to leave bags and disembark as soon as possible. Fire truck was waiting. seems handled well,” she says in a series of Twitter postings.

    According to flight tracking portal FlightRadar24, the aircraft departed Manila at 4.58pm and landed in Kalibo at 5.41pm.

    6.39pm: An Indonesian Air Force plane has detected the main cargo of the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501, reports

    The co-pilot of a Hercules aircraft surveying the debris site said the cargo appeared largely intact.

    "We found debris and cargo that are about 65 percent intact," he is quoted as saying.

    SAR operations to take two days

    6.25pm: Indonesian Navy says it aims to retrieve all bodies from the ill-fated AirAsia Flight QZ8501 by the end of tomorrow, reports

    So far, more than 40 bodies have been recovered but the search and rescue teams are fast losing light as the sun sets.

    Search officials have prepared body bags at Pangkalan Bun, the closest naval base to the debris site.

    A total of 155 passengers and seven crew members were on board the aircraft.

    AirAsia from Bangkok turns back

    5.50pm: An AirAsia flight heading from Bangkok to Khon Kaen, Thailand, turns back after pilots detect an “irregularity” in the storage compartment.

    According to an AFP report, the AirAsia Flight FD3254 returned  to Don Muang International Airport in Bangkok soon after departing for Khon Kaen at 12.10pm local time.

    The plane was allowed to resume its flight after engineers cleared it.

    TV channel apologises for gory footage

    5.46pm: Indonesia-based television channel TVOne apologises for airing visuals of floating dead bodies at the debris site of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

    The airing of close-up visuals of the dead sparked heavy criticism of the television station. reports that family members camped at Surabaya airport broke into hysterical wails on seeing the images.

    "When graphic news images of a body were shown on TV screens set up in family waiting areas, dozens burst into hysterical wailing.

    "At least two people fainted and were carried out to waiting ambulances," says the report.

    Tens of bodies have been retrieved

    5.38pm: Indonesia's warship Bun Tomo, which retrieved the first bodies earlier today, has collected up to 40 of the deceased.

    A navy spokesperson says more are being recovered from the sea, according to Channel News Asia.

    Meanwhile, said some of the bodies retrieved were found with their hands held together.

    'Plane may have tried emergency braking on water'

    5.18pm: Indonesian officials indicate that they may have found the main wreckage of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

    Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo says the search and rescue operation has spotted a "shadow" on the sea bed that resembled an aircraft.

    "The (Indonesian) air force's Hercules found an object described as a shadow at the bottom of the sea in the form of a plane," he is quoted as saying by AFP .

    He says the site is around 160km south west of Pangkalan Bun, a town in Central Kalimantan on Borneo Island.

    Meanwhile, quotes a Garuda Indonesia pilot saying that the shadow appears as the aircraft may have attempted to make an emergency landing on the water but failed, plunging sharply in a dive.

    "If the pilot made an effort for an emergency landing on the water, even if it failed,  it opens the possibility that some may have survived," Jeffrey Andrian is quoted as saying.

    AirAsia CEO sends his condolences

    4.51pm: AirAsia group chief executive officer Tony Fernandes says he is rushing to Surabaya, Indonesia after officials announced that debris of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has been found.

    "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501.

    "On behalf of AirAsia, my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am," he says in a Twitter posting.

    My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ 8501. On behalf of AirAsia my condolences ...

    — Tony Fernandes (@tonyfernandes) December 30, 2014

    Meanwhile, Indonesian news portals report that family members have become hysterical on watching visuals of the SAR operations on television.

    First bodies from QZ8501 crash retrieved

    4.33pm: The Indonesian navy has retrieved the first bodies from the AirAsia Flight QZ8501 debris site.

    Indonesia's ship KRI Bung Tomo has retrieved three of six bodies in the vicinity, reports .

    "More than one body have been found... the recovery is ongoing," Indonesia's search and rescue agency chief Bambang Soelistyo is quoted as saying.

    The site is approximately 190km south west of Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan.

    Meanwhile, Indonesian officials say 21 divers have been deployed to the site.

    Indonesia does not have any submersible vessels, but officials note that it will seek to loan them from neighbouring countries if necessary, reports .

    Debris and bodies found

    4.10pm: An Indonesian Air Force co-pilot says he spotted dozens of floating bodies after Jakarta announced it found the debris of AirAsia Flight QZ8501, reports Kompas .

    "We thought the passengers were still alive and waved at us for help. But when we approached closer (we saw) that they were already dead," says Tri Wibowo who is on board a Hercules C130.

    Meanwhile, Indonesia's Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said earlier he was fairly certain the debris is from the missing plane, according to Reuters .

    "I am 95 percent sure that the location pictured is debris suspected to be from the aircraft," he says.

    Debris 'confirmed'

    3.29pm: Several Indonesian media reports say that Jakarta has confirmed the debris of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 has been found.

    Indonesian Transport Ministry acting director-general of air transportation Djoko Murjatmodjo said the recovery process will now commence in the region of where the debris have been found.

    “It has been confirmed that it is debris from an aircraft bearing red and white colours,” he says, according to the Jakarta Post.

    3.14pm: Search and rescue teams are finding more and more objects in the search zone.

    According to Reuters , the Indonesian air force has spotted what appears to be life vests, luggages, debris and suspected bodies in the Java Sea, off the west coast of Kalimantan.

    However, CNN reports that officials are concerned about currents which may cause the objects to spread before the ships arrive for closer confirmation.

    2.43pm: The red and white debris sighted off Kalimantan in the Java Sea is "likely" from the AirAsia Flight QZ8501, Reuters quotes an Indonesian official as saying.

    “We are checking if it’s debris from the aircraft. It’s probably from the body of the aircraft,” says Djoko Murjatmodjo, who is Indonesian Transport Ministry acting director-general of air transportation.

    Djoko added that based on the size and colour of the debris, it is likely to be part of the missing jet.

    Object 'like that of human body' sighted

    2.37pm: The SAR team reports that an object "indicated to be like that of a human body" has been sighted in the Karimata Straits near West Kalimantan.

    The sighting was made from a Hercules A319 aircraft, reports .

    2pm: One of the SAR operations commanders, Dwi Putranto, says that there are 10 big objects and other smaller items in the sighted debris.

    “It is said that there is one long yellow object, which looks like a tank. There is one obvious, white shiny object. If it has been in the waters for long, the colours would have faded, but this (object) was very obvious,” says Dwi, according to .

    Debris sighted in search area

    1.30pm: Debris of about two metres wide with some in red and yellow, red and black colours have been sighted in the waters off Belinyu, Bangka, near the search site and helicopters are now heading towards the location, and report.

    Bangka Belitung governor Rustam Effendi confirms the sighting.

    Rustam also says that a fisherman had reported it but the high waves were making it difficult to get to the place, reports . states that a SAR operations team has received recorded pictures of the debris sighted.

    12.49pm: The search and rescue operation receives reports of a fire at an island located in the search zone for AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

    According to CNN and CBS , two aircraft have been dispatched to investigate if the fire is linked to the missing aircraft.

    This comes after the search effort is expanded to cover coastal land this morning, after two days of futile search.

    Missing plane yet to be fitted with tracking tech

    11.30am: AirAsia was upgrading its fleet of short-haul jets to make them easier to track, but hadn't modified the aircraft that disappeared on Sunday, reports The Wall Street Journal .

    The report further states that the budget airline is an early adopter of a dedicated tracking service, ahead of an industry push to comprehensively follow planes in flight.

    US sends its best search vessel to help

    9.54am: The USS Sampson , a US destroyer, is expected to arrive later today to help search for the missing AirAsia aircraft.

    In a statement issued from Yokosuka, Japan, the US military said that the US Pacific Command had ordered the Sampson to the "general search area" in response to a request from the government of Indonesia.

    "The US Navy is working closely with the government of Indonesia to identify additional surface or airborne capabilities that can best assist their search efforts," the US military said.

    The Indonesian government had on Monday sent a diplomatic note to the US Embassy in Jakarta with the request for help, the US State Department said.

    The Sampson is part of the US Seventh Fleet, under the US Pacific Command, and is part of an independent deployment to the Western Pacific.

    Search area expanded

    9.15am: The search and rescue efforts (SAR) have now been detailed into 13 zones. Indonesian authorities say that all areas are being combed, including on land, reports.

    9am: RMN chief Abdul Aziz says the navy's search vessel KD Lekir has entered the search site zone.

    7.45am: Royal Malaysian Navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar tweets that the search area has been expanded and revised.

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