AirAsia flight QZ8501: Singapore leaders send condolences

Indonesian president Joko Widodo speaks to the media after arriving at the crisis centre at Juanda International Airport Terminal 2 in Surabaya on Dec 30, 2014. Singapore's leaders have offered their condolences on the crash of AirAsia Indonesia flig
Indonesian president Joko Widodo speaks to the media after arriving at the crisis centre at Juanda International Airport Terminal 2 in Surabaya on Dec 30, 2014. Singapore's leaders have offered their condolences on the crash of AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 to the people and government of Indonesia, and pledged solidarity with them -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Singapore leaders sent condolences to the people and government of Indonesia on Wednesday on the crash of AirAsia QZ8501, with President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressing their sympathies to the bereaved families.

In separate letters to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Dr Tan and Mr Lee said they were "shocked" and "saddened" to hear of the crash.

They also pledged solidarity with Indonesia during this period.

As close neighbours, said Dr Tan, Singapore and Indonesia had weathered crises together and will "continue to support one another during this difficult time".

Mr Lee wrote: "Singapore stands in solidarity with Indonesia during this difficult time. We will continue to work closely with Indonesia in the recovery operation and provide further assistance that may be required.''

Both leaders also said Singapore will work with Indonesia in the recovery efforts and give any further help that may be needed.

Others who also wrote to their Indonesian counterparts offering condolences and Singapore's help in search and recovery efforts were Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew.

The Indonesia AirAsia Airbus 320-200, with 162 crew and passengers on board, went missing on Sunday morning, enroute from Surabaya to Singapore.

On Tuesday, Indonesian authorities found the first debris and bodies in the Java Sea.

Mr Teo said in his letter to Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edhi Purdijatno: "Our thoughts are with you, the families of the crew and passengers during this difficult period."

Mr Shanmugam and Dr Ng said Singapore was committed to supporting Indonesia in its operations to find the rest of the wreckage.

Said Mr Shanmugam: "We will continue to work closely with Indonesia as we move to the recovery phase."

Dr Ng, meanwhile, offered two more Singapore navy vessels to help in the search.

The vessels - one with an underwater sonar and a remotely operated vehicle and the other an autonomous underwater vehicle - were suited for the task as the search shifts underwater, he said.

These would replace the missile corvette, one of the first Singaporean vessels sent for the search.

Mr Lui wrote: "I am confident that the people of Indonesia will recover from this tragic episode through resilience and fortitude."

Since the plane debris was found, other ministers had also posted condolence messages on their Facebook pages. They include Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing and Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

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