Possible debris of AirAsia plane spotted

Jakarta/Singapore: Several pieces of debris possibly linked to the missing AirAsia plane carrying 162 people aboard were spotted today floating in the Java Sea off Indonesia, close to the area where contact was lost with the aircraft.

Indonesian air force official Agus Dwi Putranto told reporters that about 10 big objects and many more small white-coloured objects which could not be photographed have been spotted in the Java Sea off the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

“The position is 10 kilometres (six miles) from the location the plane was last captured by radar,” he said.

Ten photos of objects resembling a plane door, emergency slide, and a square box-like object were displayed by Putranto.

“It is not really clear… it could be the wall of the plane or the door of the plane,” he said in Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.

The items are considered suspicious, Jakarta’s Air Force base commander Rear Marshal Dwi Putrano was quoted as saying by media reports.

A helicopter has been sent to try and retrieve the pieces.

However, Indonesia National Search and Rescue spokesman Yusuf Latif said nothing could be confirmed till the probe was completed.

At least 30 ships, 15 aircraft and seven helicopters joined the search for the AirAsia flight QZ8501 that went missing on Sunday morning after taking off from Surabaya in eastern Java on its way to Singapore, said Indonesia’s Search and Rescue Agency chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo.

The multinational operation, led by Indonesia, has been joined by Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, with other offers for help from countries like India, South Korea, China and France. The US destroyer USS Sampson is on its way to the zone.

The United States was formally asked to assist in the operation, even though none of the passengers are American.

Earlier, several sightings, including something that resembled oil spill east of Belitung island, turned out to be false alarms.

The search by Indonesian Air Force planes spotted two pools of possible oil slick yesterday but these were later determined to be shadows from underwater coral.

The search area, originally divided into seven sectors, was today expanded to 13, covering air, sea and land.

The Airbus A320-200 was carrying 155 passengers — one British, one Malaysian, one Singaporean, three South Koreans, 149 Indonesians — and seven crew members — six Indonesians and a French co-pilot.

Seventeen of the passengers were children. There were no Indian nationals on board.