US, China extend Help to find Missing AirAsia Flight

Jakarta, Dec 30: Countries round the world have stepped up the search for the AirAsia flight that went missing with 162 people on board en route for Singapore from Indonesia and assumed to have crashed and sunk in the sea off the Indonesian coast.

The superpower countries including US and China have sent their warships to help find the missing plane that met the tragedy on Sunday.

Around 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea would search around 10,000 square nautical miles on Tuesday, officials said. They said the sea there was only 50 to 100 (150 to 300 feet) metres deep, which would be a help in finding the plane, which was carrying mainly Indonesians.

The US military said the USS Sampson, a guided missile destroyer, would be on the scene later on Tuesday. The US Defense Department said assistance to Indonesia could include some air, surface and sub-surface detection capabilities.

Chinese Defence Ministry said it had sent a warship to the South China Sea and planes have begun search operations.

The search area between the islands of Sumatra and Borneo has been expanded. The air force said authorities investigated an oil spill sighted on Monday but that was not linked to the AirAsia flight.

Authorities would also begin scouring islands in the area as well as land on Indonesia's side of Borneo. So far the focus of the search has been the Java Sea.

The Flight QZ8501 operated by Indonesia AirAsia lost radar contact in poor weather on Sunday morning on board from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. The Indonesia authorities confirmed crash and suspected that the ill-fated flight could be at the bottom of the sea.

The flight, which had sought permission from Indonesian air traffic control to ascend to avoid clouds, is still a mystery as nothing has been ascertained.

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