An aircraft has reportedly crashed in the waters off East Belitung, off the east coast of Sumatra, after authorities confirmed that AirAsia Flight QZ8501 went missing earlier today.
The Bangka Pos news portal said there was no confirmation of the crash site.
"Pak Danlanud called Bapak Basuri to say that an Airbus aircraft had crashed in the Beltim waters," the portal quoted Yuhinu, the adjutant to the local authority chief Basuri T Purnama.
Beltim refers to Belitung Timur.
The flight with 155 on board had left Surabaya at 5.20am Indonesian time and was scheduled to land in Singapore at 8.30am Singapore time.
Western Indonesia is an hour behind both Malaysia and Singapore.
Bangka Pos said authorities received information that the location is at Babel coast, but the exact place was still unknown.
“We are still coordinating and gathering information from the fishermen and the ships passing through the Beltim coast,” said AKP Yanto when contacted by Bangka Pos.
The information came right after the announcement that AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with the Jakarta Air Traffic Control at 7.34am.
Transport Ministry Flight director Djoko Murjatmojo told Kompas.com, another Indonesian news portal, that the flight dropped off radar and he was monitoring the situation and reports on the incident.
Real-time flight tracker Flightradar said the missing flight was an Airbus A320 with the registration number PK-AXC.
Tempo also reported that East Belitung city official Basuri Tjahaja Purnama has received information on the possibility of an aircraft crash at the area.
"I received the information this morning from airbase commandant Lieutenant Colonel Setiawan," said Basuri.
The report said he deployed fishermen and local government officials to start the search and rescue effort with the Indonesian navy and East Belitung marine police.
“Four information centres has been set up at several locations to coordinate the search effort and relay information.
Basuri admitted that the exact location of the crash has yet to be identified and added he could not confirm if the aircraft is the missing AirAsia QZ8501.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Singapore had activated its air force and navy to help in the search and rescue operation for the AirAsia jet.
"Two C130s are already on stand-by for this purpose. We remain ready to provide any assistance to support the search and rescue effort," the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said in a statement.
A waiting area, and facilities and support have been set up for relatives at Changi Airport Terminal 2, it said. – December 28, 2014.