AirAsia plane search: Smoke spotted in Java Sea

Smoke was reportedly seen rising from an island in the Java Sea as the search for AirAsia flight QZ8501, which disappeared from the radar while en route from Indonesia to Singapore, expanded Tuesday.

AirAsia, Indonesia, AirAsia Flight QZ 8501, AirAsia plane crash

Jakarta: Smoke was reportedly seen rising from an island in the Java Sea as the search for AirAsia flight QZ8501, which disappeared from the radar while en route from Indonesia to Singapore, expanded Tuesday.

According to Indonesian officials, the smoke was spotted in Long island, one of the thousands that make up the Indonesian archipelago, Xinhua reported.

The Airbus A320-200 with 162 on board, disappeared from the radar screen 42 minutes after it took off from Surabaya in Indonesia`s East Java province early Sunday morning.

The Indonesian authorities had sent two planes to the area to check the latest finding.

Bambang Sulistyo, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency, said the search would be expanded to land areas, with helicopters beginning the search in Kalimantan island as well as other islands in the area.

The number of areas to be scoured has increased to 13 from seven, covering some 60,000 square nautical miles, he said.

So far, the search has been focused on Java Sea, between the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

As for an oil slick discovered off Belitung island Monday, the agency chief said it was only fuel of a sailing boat.

Besides Indonesia and Singapore, US, Malaysia and Australia have joined the search and rescue operations.

A US ship equipped with sonar device would arrive Tuesday or Wednesday, said Sulistyo.

"It depends on their readiness. One US ship docking in Singapore plans to help us. The ship has a sonar system," he said.

Besides the ship, Sulistyo said, two US helicopters would also be deployed in the area.

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