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Indonesia Halts Search for AirAsia Plane, to Continue Rescue in Morning

© REUTERS / Jessica Helena WuysangA search and rescue squad from the Indonesian Airforce prepare to depart on a Puma helicopter to take part in the search for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, from a base in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan
A search and rescue squad from the Indonesian Airforce prepare to depart on a Puma helicopter to take part in the search for the missing AirAsia Flight QZ8501, from a base in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan - Sputnik International
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Rescue teams searching for the missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board stopped the search as darkness fell on Sunday night, but Indonesia's transport ministry said the search operation would resume on Monday morning.

An AirAsia plane - Sputnik International
Indonesia Verifies Reports on AirAsia Plane's Emergency Landing
MOSCOW, December 28 (Sputnik) – Rescuers searching for the missing AirAsia plane with 162 people on board halted their search as the night settled in, according to Indonesia’s transport ministry, Reuters reports.

“We ended at 5:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. GMT) because it was getting dark. The weather was also not too good as it was getting really cloudy,” transport ministry official Hadi Mustofa said, as quoted by AFP. “Tomorrow we will begin at 7 am, or even earlier than that if the weather is good,” he further said.

Earlier on today, it was reported that the plane Airbus A320-200 operated by AirAsia company, heading from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore, disappeared from the radars.

According to the statement issued by AirAsia, air traffic control lost contact with flight QZ8501 at 07:24 local time (00:24 GMT). The aircraft carried 155 passengers and seven crew members on board. Most passengers on board were Indonesian; three passengers were South Koreans, and one French, Malaysian and Singaporean.

The plane was operated by an Indonesian captain, who had a substantial number of flying hours a total of 6,100, and a French co-pilot with a total of 2,275 flying hours, according to AP.

Basarnas spokesperson previously said the plane had been caught in turbulence, attempted to change the course and had crashed into the sea. Indonesian Ministry of Transportation has not confirmed this information.

AirAsia Group CEO Anthony Fernandes said Sunday on Twitter that the disappearance of flight QZ8501 was his "worse nightmare."

AirAsia Indonesia operates domestic flights within the Indonesian archipelago and international flights to Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and Thailand. The company is an affiliate of the Malaysian company AirAsia. In 2007, AirAsia Indonesia was banned from operating flights to the European Union (EU) due to safety concerns; however, the ban was lifted in July 2010, the BBC reports.

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