Update 1:50 a.m. EST: AirAsia Flight QZ8501 sent no distress signal before it vanished from radar early Sunday, the Associated Press reported. Contact was lost about 42 minutes after the plane took off from Surabaya airport in Indonesia en route to Singapore.

Update 1:12 a.m. EST: Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 vanished about half way between Surabaya, Indonesia, and its destination of Singapore, an Indonesian transport official told Reuters. It was between the Indonesian port of Tanjung Pandan and the town of Pontanak in West Kalimantan on Borneo when it disappeared from radar.

airasia2 A sign informing the next-of-kins of passengers of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore is seen next to an information counter at Changi Airport in Singapore Dec. 28, 2014. The man pictured at the counter is not the next-of-kin. Indonesia's Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said the aircraft, flight number QZ 8501, lost contact with the Jakarta air traffic control tower on Sunday at 6:17 a.m local time (2317 GMT). Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su

The aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid thunderclouds, Joko Muryo Atmodjo, Indonesian Transport Ministry air transportation director, said at a news conference, the agency reported. The captain in command had a total of 6,100 flying hours and the first officer a total of 2,275 flying hours, the airline said.

"Saddened to hear of missing Flight QZ8501," Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loon said in a statement on Twitter. "My thoughts are with the passengers and their families."

AirAsia is a budget carrier that has never lost a plane, the Associated Press reported. It has dominated cheap air travel in the area for years.

Update 12:24 a.m. EST:

"The President has been briefed on AirAsia Flight 8501 and White House officials will continue to monitor the situation,” White House Spokesperson Eric Schultz said in a statement.

AirAsia confirmed the disappearance on its Facebook page:

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.

Update 11:59 p.m. EST:

Singapore has dispatched its navy and air force in a search and rescue operation for AirAsia Flight QZ8501, its aviation authority announced in a statement. Officials now say weather could have been a factor in the flight's disappearance, the Indonesian news agency Antara reported. A 10-year-old girl is one of 16 children aboard, Transport Ministry spokesman J.A. Barata told Agence France-Presse.

"The weather was not good -- it was bad -- at the estimated location the plane lost contact. We just received a weather report from the national meteorological, geophysics and climatology agency," Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said, Arabic news station Al-Haribita reported.

 

Update 11:30 p.m. EST: The Indonesian Transport Ministry now says 162 people were aboard AirAsia Flight QZ8501 when it vanished early Sunday, local time. Flight QZ8501 was due in at 8:30 a.m. and is currently listed as "delayed" in Singapore. Indonesia's travel ministry said one Singaporean, one Briton, one Malaysian, three Koreans and 149 Indonesians were aboard. The passengers included one infant, a 10-year-old girl and seven members of the flight crew.

The staff listed on flight QZ8501 included Capt. Iriyanto as pilot and Remi Emmanuel Plesel as co-pilot. Four flight attendents were listed -- Wanti Setiawati, Khairunisa Haidar Fauzi, Oscar Desano and Wismoyo Ari Prambudi -- as well as technician Saiful Rakhmad. A full list of passengers on board is being prepared by the Transportation Ministry.

"AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 hrs this morning,'' AirAsia said in a statement. "At the present time, we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board. Search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service.”

The AirAsia flight lost contact with air traffic control somewhere between Kalimantan and Belitung island. Indonesia's national search and rescue agency said that the pilot might have been dealing with bad weather. Indonesia is currently in the midst of its wet season, and faces flooding as well as other extreme weather conditions.

AirAsia says that an emergency call center is available. Family and friends of those on board the flight can call +622 129850801 for more information.

 

Original post:

AirAsia flight QZ8501 vanished early Sunday. Air traffic control said it lost contact with the plane at 6:17 a.m., local time.

Flight QZ8501 was headed from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to the island nation of Singapore, Reuters reported. The plane departed about 5:20 a.m. for what is normally a three-hour flight.

The aircraft had asked for an unusual route before it lost contact with Jakarta air traffic control, Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa said. The plane, an Airbus a320-200f, had 155 passengers and crew aboard.

This is a developing story and will be continuously updated with more details as they become available.