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Indonesia deploys 30 vessels, 15 aircraft to search missing AirAsia plane

Indonesia deploys 30 vessels, 15 aircraft to search missing AirAsia plane

SURABAYA: At least 30 ships and 15 aircraft have been deployed in the search for missing Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501, said Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla.

“This is not an easy operation, but we are trying our best as we have dispatched all relevant agencies, such as the navy, coastguard, customs and air force, to look for the aircraft.”

He said this after meeting family members of passengers on board the flight, which went missing on Sunday while en route to Singapore from here, at the crisis centre in Juanda International Airport here.

Jusuf, who also received a briefing from the officers on duty at the crisis centre, said Indonesia had received help from neighbours Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

“There were also offers from the United States, France and the United Kingdom,” he said.

AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, who was present, said the airline’s focus was to care and provide for the next of kin of the passengers.

“We will be carrying out an investigation to find out what happened.

Jusuf and Fernandes had flown here from Jakarta, where the main search-and-rescue (SAR) operations are being coordinated by the National Search and Rescue Agency.

The SAR operations team in the Bangka-Belitung province has been divided into three parts.

Two aircraft search teams will each be based at H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin Airport in Tanjung Pandan and Pangkalpinang Airport, while the sea search will be coordinated from Manggar in East Belitung.

The division was made to widen the search area for the missing Airbus A320-200, which is believed to have crashed after disappearing from radar over the waters of the Karimata Strait, between the island and Kalimantan.

East Belitung government Regent Dr Basuri Tjahaja Purnama said the two airports would serve to monitor the deployment of aircraft involved in the SAR operations around the island cluster.

“Meanwhile, the Manggar base will be the centre for search ships, which will include vessels from the various agencies involved, as well as fishing vessels, which will help monitor the smaller islands in the surrounding waters,” he said at the Indonesian Navy base operations centre in Bangka-Belitung province.