As authorities scramble to find out what happened to AirAsia flight QZ8501, so far believed to have crashed in the waters of Belitung, an Indonesian news portal Detik.com reported that there might still be hope.
It reported from Surabaya that a family of a missing passenger received a glimmer of hope via a Blackberry Messenger (BBM) text.
The portal quoted Intan, the sister of passenger Martinus Djomy as saying: “Kabarnya mendarat darurat di Belitung Timur, semua selamat. Tapi kita tetap butuh kepastian.”
(We got word that that the plane made an emergency landing in Belitung Timur, everyone is safe. But we still need to be sure.)
Intan said she learned about this from a friend who sent her the text message via BBM.
Her brother Martinus was travelling to Singapore with his wife, child and babysitter.
Detik.com reported that the piece of information was passed on to the authorities at the crisis centre in Juanda.
The news portal added that unfortunately, there remains no confirmation from relevant authorities whether the information was accurate or otherwise.
In a separate story, Detik.com also quoted Nasional Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) Jakarta chief Sutrisno as saying that the agency’s radar did not detect the flight’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).
He said the ELT would go off if there was impact or if the plane had gone under water.
“If the plane landed smoothly on water, it wouldn’t have gone off, unless the device was not working. It didn’t go off so Basarnas doesn’t know its position now,” Detik quoted him as saying.
There are 155 passengers and seven crew members aboard the Singapore-bound jet, which had lost contact with the Surabaya air traffic control after it flew out of the east Java city at 5.20am Indonesian time. It was due to land at 8.30am Singapore time.
Indonesian nationals make up 156 of the 162 onboard, with the rest comprising three South Koreans, one Malaysian, one Singaporean and one French.
Earlier this afternoon, reports quoted a National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) official from Pangkalpinang, Supriandi, that the missing Airbus A320 was believed to have crashed at the location 03.22.46 South and 108.50.07 East, in waters around 80 to 100 nautical miles from Belitung.
Antara news agency reported that a rescue team had been despatched to Belitung.
It was reported that the missing flight had circled over the sea near Belitung to avoid a storm before it experienced severe turbulence and crashed into the ocean, reports said.