Family members of passengers on board AirAsia flight QZ8501 wait for information inside the AirAsia crisis center at Juanda Airport inSurabaya, East Java December 28, 2014 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Photo credit: Reuters
Indonesia President Joko Widodo urged his people to pray for the safety of the passengers and crew. During his Sunday address at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, Pope Francis said those on board were in his prayers.
The head of Indonesia's transport safety committee expressed hope of locating QZ8501 quickly and said it was too soon to detect the so-called electronic pings from its black box recorder.
"We are using our capacity to search on sea and land," Tatang Kurniadi told a news conference in Jakarta.
"Until now, we have not found out how the plane fell or what kind of emergency it was."
There was bad weather over Belitung at the time and the aircraft had been flying at 32,000 feet before asking to fly at 38,000 feet to avoid clouds.
Malaysia was sending vessels and a C130 aircraft while Singapore had also sent a C130. Australia had a P3 Orion aircraft on standby and India offered three navy boats.
Louise Sidharta was at Singapore's Changi Airport waiting for her fiancée to return from a family holiday.
"It was supposed to be their last vacation before we got married," she said.
A man named Purnomo told TVOne in Surabaya of his lucky escape. "I should have been on the flight ... but this morning I had an emergency. I had my passport in hand."
Like all affiliates of AirAsia, which include Thailand, the Philippines and India, Indonesia AirAsia operates Airbus jets, of which it has 30 of the A320 model.
AirAsia has ordered several hundred jets from the European planemaker, making it one of its most important customers. The missing plane has been in service for just over six years, according to airfleets.net.
Indonesian officials from the civil aviation authority and transport safety committee, which are responsible for crash investgiations, arrived in Surabaya on Sunday. A transport ministry official said Indonesia would handle the probe.
"The aircraft was registered in Indonesia and it looks to be missing over Indonesian territory, so we will lead the investigation," said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media.
"We have the expertise to do this."