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SINGAPORE, December 29. /TASS/. The search effort for the AirAsia plane that went missing with 162 people on board on Sunday has been yet unsuccessful, Indonesian authorities said on Monday.
The search focused on waters around the island of Belitung, on the border of the Java Sea and South China Sea. The search area in the sea is expected to be expanded from seven to 11 sectors.
The effort will be also carried out on the ground, with rescuers planning to search the western part of the Kalimantan island on Tuesday, said the head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, Bambang Soelistyo.
Indonesia is leading the search operation for the airliner, because the contact was lost with the jet, when it was flying in its responsibility zone. The search team includes representatives of Malaysia, South Korea and Singapore. The United Kingdom, India, Canada, China and the United States have also offered help in the operation.
Emergencies Situation Minister Vladimir Puchkov has also offered Russia’s assistance.
Rescuers believe that the missing AirAsia plane likely sank to the bottom of the sea. Indonesia lacks required rescue equipment, including underwater vehicles to lift the jet, Soelistyo said earlier on Monday.
Indonesia has dispatched seven jets, four naval ships and six research vessels.
The AirAsia jet was en route from Surabaya, the second largest city in Indonesia, to Singapore. About 40 minutes after the take-off the plane disappeared from the radar screens, presumably staying in the area of Kalimantan Island (Borneo). The Airbus A320-200 was carrying 155 passengers, including seven crewmembers. Most of the passengers were from Indonesia.
Earlier on Monday, it was reported that the jet requested at 6:12 am local time to ascend to a higher altitude of 11,500 meters and to turn left to avoid bad weather. Local authorities allowed the plane to only turn left and continue the flight at the altitude of 9,700 meters (32,000 feet) as there was another plane in the vicinity.
Shortly after, the contact was lost near the Borneo Island over the Java Sea.
This is the third air incident this year involving Malaysia, where the low-cost airline in based. The plane’s loss comes after the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March and the crash Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in mid-July in eastern Ukraine.