SURABAYA, Indonesia, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Search and rescue operations continue for the missing AirAsia jet after being halted due to darkness and bad weather.
AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ-8501 from Surabaya lost contact with air traffic control Sunday at 6:17 a.m., ABC News reported. The aircraft was flying to Singapore when it disappeared after the pilots requested a flight plan change due to weather.
There were 155 passengers on board, as well as two pilots and five aircrew members. There were 16 children and one infant aboard.
Indonesian Air Transport Director Djoko Murjatmodjo eliminated the possibility of the plane still being in the air, as its fuel supply would have run out. Teams are searching the sea and mountains of the region.
The flight path alteration request was approved and pilots also requested to increase altitude from 32,000 feet to 38,000 feet to avoid reported thunderstorms. Contact with ground control in Jakarta was lost before that request could be processed, Murjatmodjo said.
Family members were updated in Surabaya by AirAsia management, the Governor of East Java, rescue agency and airport representatives.
"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this incident. We are cooperating with the relevant authorities to the fullest extent to determine the cause of this incident. In the meantime, our main priority is keeping the families of our passengers and colleagues informed on the latest developments," AirAsia Indonesia CEO Sunu Widyatmoko said.
The captain of the flight had 20,537 hours of flight experience, 6,100 of which were with AirAsia Indonesia.The co-pilot had 2,275 hours.
The six-year-old Airbus A320-200 aircraft underwent maintenance on Nov. 16, 2014.
An emergency call center has been established for those looking for information about friends or relatives aboard the flight.