It was supposed to be their last vacation together before they got married. Instead, it has turned into a nightmare vigil in Singapore for news about a missing plane.
Louise Sidharta, left, from Indonesia, whose fiance was on board a missing AirAsia flight, arrives at a holding area for relatives and next-of-kin of passengers on that flight, at the Changi International Airport in Singapore today. Sidharta said her fiancé, Alain, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, was traveling with his parents and three brothers.
Louise Sidharta, 25, heard about the AirAsia Bhd. (AIRA) plane that lost contact on her way to the airport in Surabaya, Indonesia. She knew her fiancé and his family had taken an earlier flight to Singapore, where they were all scheduled to holiday together. Soon, her worst fears were confirmed.
A multination search was partially halted after a day of scouring yielded no clues as to what happened to Flight QZ8501, which took off from Surabaya with 155 passengers and seven crew on board. The plane lost contact with the tower early in the day. The journey to Singapore usually takes about two hours.
At Singapore’s Changi Airport, where bright Christmas decorations are still up, a holding area has been set up for relatives and friends of the passengers. Sidharta was ushered there earlier today, wheeling her bag along.
Sidharta said her fiancé, Alain, a 27-year-old entrepreneur, was traveling with his parents and three brothers. She didn’t provide further details. The passenger manifest listed an Alain Oktavianus.
“We had planned to marry in May next year,” Sidharta told reporters. “We are not thinking negatively right now. We are only having positive thoughts.”
Relatives and friends who had earlier registered at the holding area have left for the night, Changi Airport said. Sixteen have taken up an offer to fly to Surabaya tonight, while the rest have gone home or to a hotel, it said.
People queue at an AirAsia sales counter in terminal 1 at Changi international airport in Singapore today. A multination search was partially halted after a day of scouring yielded no clues as to what happened to Flight QZ8501, which took off from Surabaya with 155 passengers and seven crew on board.
The holding area, which was guarded by security, had staff from AirAsia and airport partners, as well as officials from the Indonesian embassy in Singapore, Changi Airport said earlier. Those in the holding area had been given food, water and blankets, according to Changi Airport spokesman Robin Goh.
Today’s incident is a painful reminder for those who lost families and friends on two planes operated by state-run carrier Malaysian Airline System Bhd. (MAS) Flight 370 vanished from radar screens en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur March 8 without warning, while MH17 was shot down in Ukraine in July.
The AirAsia logo on Twitter and its official Facebook page went from its usual cherry red to gray within minutes of its first statement saying that the plane had lost contact.
AirAsia Chief Executive Tony Fernandes, who flew to Surabaya, also took to Twitter. “This is my worst nightmare,” he tweeted. “I as your group ceo will be there through these hard times. We will go through this terrible ordeal together.”