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Relatives of the passengers of AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for the latest news on the missing jetliner at a crisis center set up by local authority at Juanda International Airport in Indonesia AP/Press Association Images
missing plane

Daughter of Indonesian pilot begs "Papa come home, I still need Papa"

It’s feared the AirAsia jet may be at the bottom of the sea.

Updated 21:20

DOZENS OF PLANES and ships searching Indonesian waters for a missing AirAsia plane focused on a patch of oil for possible clues today - as a senior official warned the aircraft was likely at the bottom of the sea.

Australia, Malaysia and Singapore joined the Indonesia-led search as anguished relatives awaited news of their loved ones more than a day after Flight QZ8501 disappeared over the Java Sea with 162 people on board.

“Papa come home, I still need Papa,” Angela, the daughter of the Indonesian pilot Irianto, begged in an emotional appeal on local social media.

The Airbus A320-200 lost contact en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore on Sunday after the crew requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.

Indonesian Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto told AFP the search was now concentrated on an oil patch spotted off Belitung island, across from Kalimantan on Borneo island.

We are making sure whether it was avtur (aviation fuel) from the AirAsia plane or from a vessel because that location is a shipping line.

As the second day’s search ended at dusk, National Search and Rescue Agency chief Bambang Soelistyo said an Indonesian corvette was on its way to collect an oil sample, with an announcement expected tomorrow.

Indonesia Plane Members of Indonesia's Marine Police hold a briefing on board a search and rescue craft prior to their heading out to sea to search for the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Soelistyo earlier said it was likely the plane was at the “bottom of the sea”.

The hypothesis is “based on the coordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea”, he told journalists.

Ships and aircraft were searching an area where the sea is 40-50 metres (130-160 feet) deep, he said, adding that Indonesia was coordinating with other countries to borrow any equipment needed to scour the seabed.

Distraught relatives

Indonesia Plane Relatives and next-of-kin of passengers on the AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for the latest news on the search of the missing jetliner AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Distraught relatives in Surabaya were desperately hoping for news of loved ones as the international search expanded.

Intan, 28, said Indonesia needed overseas help to find the plane which was carrying her brother and his family and friends.

“My hope is Indonesia seeks as much help as possible from other countries. Don’t claim ‘We have sophisticated technology’, just ask other countries because they are better equipped,” she told AFP, as Jakarta welcomed offers of help from its neighbours.

My prayer is I really, really hope that there will be news about the people on board. Whatever it is, what is important is we know where they are now.

While the international operation has drawn comparisons with the ongoing search for Malaysia Airlines MH370, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said it did not appear to be a great mystery.

Indonesia Plane Relatives and next-of-kin of passengers on the AirAsia flight QZ8501 comfort each other as they wait for the latest news on the search of the missing jetliner AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“It doesn’t appear that there’s any particular mystery here,” Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB.

It’s an aircraft that was flying a regular route on a regular schedule, it struck what appears to have been horrific weather, and it’s down. But this is not a mystery like the MH370 disappearance and it’s not an atrocity like the MH17 shooting down.

China, which had 152 citizens on MH370, said in a statement Monday that it would send a navy frigate and a military jet to join in the search.

The frigate, on a routine patrol in the South China Sea, was en route to the area where the plane went missing, and the air force was coordinating with countries on the flight route, the statement from the defence ministry said.

Miraculous escape 

An Indonesian family of 10 said they had a miraculous escape when they arrived too late to catch AirAsia Flight QZ8501, which went missing shortly after take-off en route to Singapore.

Christianawati, 36, said the 10 of them, who included her family, her mother and her younger brother’s family, were heading to Singapore to celebrate New Year.

The six adults and four children were originally booked on the 7:30 am flight but AirAsia moved them to Flight QZ8501 scheduled for two hours earlier.

“They emailed and called us on December 15 and 16 to inform us but we missed those calls,” Christianawati said.

“So we arrived at the airport to check in for the 7:30am flight but were told our flights had been rescheduled to 5:30am and we were late. Of course we were angry,” she said.

While the new tickets were being reissued, we heard that the earlier plane had crashed so we cancelled our flights immediately.

“I was shocked to hear about it and cried. Maybe it is all God’s plan that my family and I were not on the flight. It was a blessing in disguise,” she said.

“I hope that the plane is found and everyone is safe.”

Christianawati said she would be switching airlines.

“We travel to Singapore twice a year and always by AirAsia. We consider it a safe airline … but now our confidence in AirAsia is somewhat shaken,” she said.

© – AFP 2014

Read: Q&A: What happened to missing AirAsia flight QZ8501?

Read: Search for plane with 162 people on board called off for the night

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