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AirAsia loses contact with plane carrying 162 people over Indonesia

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The Associated Press reports that an AirAsia flight on its way from Indonesia to Singapore is missing, having lost contact with ground control Sunday morning. Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, had 155 passengers, 2 pilots, and 5 cabin crew, and, according to an official statement, disappeared about an hour before it was due to land. Search and rescue efforts are currently underway.

"Search and rescue operations have been activated by the Indonesian authorities," said the Singapore aviation authority in a statement. The Singapore navy and air force have been deployed in the search.

Update 1:20am ET: In an updated statement, AirAsia states that flight QZ8501 requested "deviation" from its flight plan due to weather:

The aircraft was on the submitted flight plan route and was requesting deviation due to enroute weather before communication with the aircraft was lost while it was still under the control of the Indonesian Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Update 8:20am ET: The search for the missing flight was suspended Sunday due to darkness and bad weather. Efforts will resume on Monday morning.

Update 12:55pm ET: AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes stated at a news conference today that he would not speculate about the fate of flight QZ8501 at this time, instead focusing the airline's efforts on caring for the families of those missing:

"Our concern right now is for the relatives and the next of kin," he said. "There is nothing more important to us, or our crews, families, and for the passengers’ families that we look after them. That is our number one priority at the moment."

Update 9:30PM ET: The search for the missing plane has resumed. The head of the Indonesian search effort said he believes the plane's wreckage will be found underwater.