AirAsia plane crash: Co-pilot survives, but no survivors found

Image copyright Max Moger Image caption The engine caught fire just after takeoff in Peru An AirAsia plane flying from Colombia to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the rainforest of Borneo on the way to…

AirAsia plane crash: Co-pilot survives, but no survivors found

Image copyright Max Moger Image caption The engine caught fire just after takeoff in Peru

An AirAsia plane flying from Colombia to Kuala Lumpur crashed in the rainforest of Borneo on the way to Indonesia – and the co-pilot survived.

The pilots radioed AirNav Indonesia saying they were having engine problems and had been forced to turn back.

Rescuers said they were not sure how many people had survived, or if there were any dead.

“We found the cockpit but we haven’t found any survivors,” Rudi Hadi, a search and rescue official, told AFP news agency.

Image copyright DSS Image caption Mr Purnomo said that he had done nothing to deserve being declared dead

The plane was carrying 162 people, but it is unclear how many passengers and crew survived.

One of the suspected survivors is with the body, although it is not clear if it is the co-pilot.

Sair Rijen Purnomo, a 27-year-old resident from a province in western Papua, said he was killed in the crash but survived when he got his parachute to work.

He said that he did not know what had happened because he was asleep.

The search and rescue agency said the wreckage was scattered over a wide area and that it was unclear whether there were any survivors.

“We are assessing the wreckage and waiting for a professional team from Indonesia to arrive,” said General Romeo Neto, the director general of air operations at the national search and rescue agency.

Image copyright DSS Image caption Rescuers said they were not sure how many people had survived

But he said the co-pilot could be pulled out alive, with his parachute partly deployed.

The airport was closed while the search operation continued, according to the Department of Transportation in Indonesia.

Images from the scene showed the plane’s fuselage and tail were intact, but there was no sign of passengers.

Video courtesy of CNN TV

Image copyright @Lussitas . . . “A hard rain, because of which the plane ran into the jungle,” said witness Pasang Parngsirakira via Twitter Image caption Deputy director of civil aviation in Cetco said the plane lost contact with the control tower shortly after takeoff

Image copyright @Coeu . . . “When our plane took off it had a whole 20 minute delay,” said co-pilot

The flight AH5017 was on its final flight before switching to a new fuel tank, with a destination of Bogor, Indonesia.

The Indonesian Air Transport Safety Committee said it received the first account from the co-pilot of how the incident happened.

They said he had done nothing to deserve being declared dead.

“Despite that an announcement was made that the co-pilot is dead, he did not show any symptoms of panic,” said Volodymyr Syamatsuk, director of accident investigation at the committee.

AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes thanked rescuers and asked for patience.

“Very thankful to those who were already in the forest … and those are still there and find survivors. Prayers for everyone affected by this difficult time,” he tweeted.

Image copyright AFP Image caption Aerial images of the wreckage of the AirAsia plane showed the plane’s fuselage intact but there was no sign of passengers

The airline, which is famous for its low fares, had its first crash in 2014. 162 people were killed when the tail of flight QZ8501 came off the same route during stormy weather in the stormy Andaman Sea.

That incident led the airline to drop two destinations, from Surabaya to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

The Indonesian disaster response agency said it was working with relevant government departments and authorities in Cebu in the Philippines, which had deployed a team to help.

Several possible explanations for why the plane crashed have been put forward.

Mr Purnomo, who is believed to be one of the survivors, said the plane lost contact shortly after it took off from the Colombian city of Medellin.

“I was in an evening class when I heard a loud bang,” Mr Purnomo said, as he was being helped from the jungle by an armed police unit.

“I was tired. I was trying to sleep,” he said, adding that he had lost consciousness and woke up on the road.

It is not clear where the plane crashed or the impact that caused the crash, but it is believed to have hit trees and flipped and fallen over several times.

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