S. Korea to join search for missing AirAsia plane

December 28, 2014
An airport official checks a map of Indonesia at the crisis center set up by local authority for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501, at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. The AirAsia plane with over 160 people on board lost contact with ground control on Sunday while flying over the Java Sea after taking off from the provincial city in Indonesia for Singapore. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

An airport official checks a map of Indonesia at the crisis center set up by local authority for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501, at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. The AirAsia plane with over 160 people on board lost contact with ground control on Sunday while flying over the Java Sea after taking off from the provincial city in Indonesia for Singapore. (AP Photo/Trisnadi)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea said Monday it plans to send a surveillance plane this week to join the Indonesia-led search for an AirAsia plane that went missing a day earlier with 162 people on board.

AirAsia’s flight QZ8501 carrying 155 passengers and seven crew members lost contact Sunday en route to Singapore from Indonesia. A South Korean family consisting of three members was confirmed to be on board the plane.

Seoul’s foreign ministry said it plans to send the aircraft as early as late Tuesday in a mission to support Indonesia’s search and rescue operation.

The foreign ministry added that it has been in talks with six countries to get approval for the plane to pass through their airspaces.

A team of South Korea’s consul general and two other diplomats in Indonesia was dispatched late Sunday to an airport in Surabaya, where the missing carrier departed, the ministry said, adding an official from the South Korean Embassy in Singapore will join the team.

Media reports said that bad weather may have played a part in the plane’s disappearance, given that a pilot asked flight controllers for a change of flight plan to avoid inclement weather.

No signs of the missing jetliner have been found so far.

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