AirAsia flight QZ8501: Plane likely at bottom of the sea, says Indonesia's search chief

Family of passengers on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Family of passengers on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 at a waiting area in Juanda International Airport, Surabaya on Dec 28, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (AFP) - The AirAsia plane that went missing with 162 people on board en route for Singapore is likely at the bottom of the sea, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief said on Monday.“Based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Mr Bambang Soelistyo told a press conference.“That’s the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search.”

Mr Soelistyo said Indonesia did not have “the tools", such as submersible vehicles, required to retrieve the plane from the seabed, but that it is reaching out to other countries for help if necessary.“Due to the lack of technology that we have, I have coordinated with our foreign minister so we will borrow from other countries which have offered. They are the UK, France and US,” he said.The Airbus A320-200 disappeared on Sunday en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have dispatched aircraft and ships to assist Indonesia in the search, which is centred on the Java Sea. The United States has also said it was ready to assist.