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Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 live updates: Objects spotted in the sea during hunt

Caution over 'plane' objects in sea

By Lizzie Dearden

Objects have been spotted in the sea by Australian search planes involved in the hunt for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501.

Officials said the objects are in an area of interest and will be examined further. Other latest developments are:

  • Officials have warned that the missing plane is probably at the 'bottom of the sea'

  • The captain's father said he last saw his son days before, at the funeral of another son

  • Some experts have said the pilot may have been flying too slowly

  • A British businessman on board was travelling with his two-year-old daughter

  • The search area has been expanded this morning

  • The missing jet was carrying 162 people and disappeared on Sunday morning whilst travelling from Indonesia to Singapore. The last contact was at 6.17am.

    The search for the aircraft was expanded today with planes and ships from several countries taking part.

    The Foreign Office has confirmed that a British national was on board the plane.

    Insufficient evidence

    There is "insufficient evidence" that objects spotted in the sea are from the missing AirAsia plane, Indonesia's vice-president has said.

    The objects were seen by Australian planes in an area where the Airbus A320, carrying 162 people, is believed to have gone down.

    But when the question of possible wreckage was raised at a press conference today, Indonesia's vice-president Jusuf Kalla said there was "insufficient evidence" so far and ships in the area were being asked to investigate.

    He confirmed there was no distress signal sent by the flight QZ8501 and communications were normal until cut off.

    Meanwhile Australia's prime minister Tony Abbott has said there is "no mystery" to the disappearance of the AirAsia flight which was going from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore.

    He said he believed the plane had crashed as a result of "horrific" weather and dismissed any comparison with the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 last March.

    "I think it would be a big mistake to equate what has happened here with MH370," Mr Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB.

    Henry Bambang Soelistyo, of the National Search and Rescue, said: "Based on the co-ordinates that we know, the evaluation would be that any estimated crash position is in the sea, and that the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea."

    A British national, named as Chi Man Choi, according to reports of the passenger manifest in the Indonesian media, is among those on board the plane.

    He is thought to have been travelling with his daughter, Zoe, on tickets bought on Boxing Day.

    He is believed to hold a British passport but live in Singapore with his family.

    The search for the missing plane, which had 155 passengers and seven crew on board, resumed today, after being suspended due to poor weather conditions.

    Twelve navy ships, five planes, three helicopters and a number of warships are searching an area of east and south-east Belitung island and nearby waters, said First Admiral Sigit Setiayana, of the Naval Aviation Centre Command at the Surabaya air force base.

    He said visibility for the search is good.

    "God willing, we can find it soon," he added.

    AirAsia's chief executive, Tony Fernandes, who also owns Premier League football team Queens Park Rangers, spoke yesterday of his sadness and thanked people for their support.

    He said: "This is my worst nightmare.

    "My only thoughts are with the passengers and my crew.

    "We put our hope in the SAR (search and rescue) operation and thank the Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysian governments."

    He said he was "touched by the massive show of support", especially from fellow airlines.

    Mr Choi's brother has reportedly said his family is "preparing for the worst".

    Chi Choi, said to be based in Cheshire, told the Daily Mirror his brother took a different flight from his wife due to work commitments.

    "I believe the reason they didn't fly out together was because of his work schedule. His wife and son flew first. I spoke to his wife and she fears the worst," he said.

    Mr Fernandes said his heart "bleeds" as the families of those missing await news.

    Writing on Twitter, he said: "Keeping positive and staying strong. My heart bleeds for all the relatives of my crew and our passengers. Nothing is more important to us."

    The airline boss said he had travelled to the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to liaise with those in charge of the search and rescue mission, but planned to go back to Surabaya where families of those on board the plane are desperately awaiting an update on the situation.

    Some relatives are based in Singapore, where they would have hoped to meet their family members safely off the plane yesterday.

    The airline said it is providing whatever support it can to all those affected.

    It said: "AirAsia Indonesia's primary focus remains on the families and Sunu Widyatmoko, chief executive officer of AirAsia Indonesia, is currently stationed at the family centre in Surabaya.

    "We have been keeping the families updated on the search and rescue efforts as well as provide emotional support. Another group of AirAsia officials are providing the same to the families based in Singapore."

    Source Independent additional reporting PA

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