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Airliner with 162 aboard missing in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- An AirAsia plane with 162 people aboard lost contact with ground control today while flying over the Java Sea on its way from an Indonesian provincial city to Singapore, and search and rescue efforts were underway.

Flight QZ8501 lost communication with Jakarta's air traffic control at 7:24 a.m., about an hour before it was scheduled to land in Singapore, the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement. Contact was lost about 42 minutes after takeoff from Indonesia's Surabaya airport, Hadi Mustofa, an official of the transportation ministry, told Indonesia's MetroTV. He said the weather in the area of the Java Sea was cloudy.

AirAsia said the plane was an Airbus A320-200 and that search and rescue operations were in progress.

The plane had two pilots, five cabin crew and 155 passengers, including 16 children and one infant, the general manager of the city of Surabaya's airport, Trikora Raharjo, told The Associated Press.

There were six foreigners -- three South Koreans, including an infant, and one each from Singapore, Britain and Malaysia, Raharjo said. The rest were Indonesians, he said.

Budget carrier AirAsia, which has dominated cheap travel in the region for years, has never lost a plane before.

-- AP

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