There are reports an aircraft has crashed in the waters off East Belitung, an island between Java and Sumatra, after an AirAsia plane with 161 people aboard lost contact with air traffic control.

The AirAsia plane lost contact earlier today after takeoff from Indonesia on the way to Singapore, and search and rescue operations are underway.

Guardian contributor Kate Lamb says Indonesian media outlet Kompas is reporting that a plane crashed in Belitung, adding East Belitung water police are “currently coordinating with local fishermen to determine which boats have passed through the areas in which the plane might have crashed.”

Flight QZ8501 lost communication with Jakarta’s air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Singapore time, about an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. The contact was lost about 42 minutes after takeoff from Indonesia’s Surabaya airport, Hadi Mustofa, an official of the transportation ministry told Indonesia’s MetroTV.

AirAsia said in a statement that the plane was an Airbus A320-200 and that search and rescue operations were in progress.

The plane had six crew and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, the general manager of Surabaya’s Juanda airport, Trikora Raharjo, told The Associated Press.

There were six foreigners – three South Koreans including an infant and one each from Singapore, British and Malaysia, said Raharjo. The rest were Indonesians, he said.

The plane lost contact when it was believed to be over the Java Sea between Kalimantan and Java islands, Mustofa said.

He said the weather in the area was cloudy.

The Singapore aviation authority said it was informed about the missing plane by Jakarta ground control about half an hour after the contact was lost.

“Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities,” it said, adding that the Singapore air force and the navy also were activated with two C-130 planes.

Budget carrier AirAsia, which has dominated cheap travel in the region for years, has never lost a plane before.

Source ONE News

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