Opinion / Editorials

Find the missing jet first

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-30 07:55

Find the missing jet first

Relatives of passengers onboard AirAsia flight QZ8501 cry in a waiting area at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya December 29, 2014. A missing AirAsia jet carrying 162 people could be at the bottom of the sea after it was presumed to have crashed off the Indonesian coast, an official said on Monday, as countries around Asia sent ships and planes to help in the search effort. [Photo/Agencies]

Will conspiracy theories arise following the disappearance of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 on Sunday over the Java Sea? The answer will be in the affirmative unless evidence is found to confirm where and how it landed or crashed.

The plane with 162 passengers and crew on board was flying from Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya to Singapore when contact with it was lost about half way to its destination. Asking to avoid clouds by turning left and going higher to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) is the only information the pilot gave air traffic control about the situation.

No one can tell what has happened to the flight. Whether it crashed because of the bad weather or the pilot's response to the extreme weather conditions will remain a mystery unless the plane, or presumably its wreckage, is found and the black box and voice recorder recovered.

Inevitably, the mystery surrounding the fate of the plane has reminded people of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which is still missing after disappearing nine months ago.

Suspicions of foul play emerged almost as soon as the plane disappeared. But there is no suggestion at the present that the AirAsia flight is anything but a tragic accident, which should certainly alert other air carriers.

If it is indeed an accident due to the bad weather conditions such as a thunderstorm, it should be near the spot where it lost contact with air traffic control. Then the search efforts will probably be within a much smaller area than that being covered in the hunt for MH370. So, in theory, the search should be easier.

It is impossible to know how long it will take to find the plane. And conspiracy theories will arise until the plane is found. So it is important that AirAsia Indonesia and the Indonesian authorities release information in a timely manner as new facts emerge.

It is still too early to say that all passengers and crew on board the plane have perished, although an Indonesian official said the missing jet could be at the bottom of the sea. So no efforts should be spared in locating where the plane might have landed or crashed in case there are any survivors. China has offered airplanes and ships to help the search operations.

To the relatives of the passengers and crew on board, we offer our most sincere condolences and hopes that there might be a miracle and their loved ones be still alive.

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