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Monday, December 29, 2014

Flooding Kills 24 in Malaysia and Thailand

Nearly 160,000 have been left homeless since the flooding began

Flooding in Malaysia and Thailand has killed 24 people and left nearly 160,000 homeless since mid-December, in the deadliest regional flood season in a decade, according to recent reports.

Malaysian authorities said the rain is expected to last at least another week, Reuters reported.

The death total includes 10 in Malaysia and 14 in Southern Thailand.

The news comes as Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visited sites of the flooding following his return from Hawaii on Friday. Razak had been criticized for playing golf with U.S. President Barack Obama during the floods.
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:10 AM

AirAsia Plane Missing with 162 Aboard

The lost flight is the third major aviation disaster connected with Malaysia this year

An AirAsia plane carrying 162 people from Indonesia to Singapore vanished early Sunday, and initial search and rescue efforts failed to locate the aircraft.

Flight 8501 was due to land at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8.30 a.m. local time after departing from Surabaya, Indonesia. But air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane in Indonesian airspace at about 7:24 a.m., officials said.

“We don’t dare to presume what has happened except that it has lost contact,” Djoko Murjatmodjo, Indonesia’s acting director general of transportation, told reporters.

Some 10 hours after the aircraft vanished, and with darkness having set in, no sign of the errant Airbus A320-200 had been found. Wet weather also hampered search efforts. The search was set to resume at 6 a.m. Monday.

The plane had 162 people on board, including seven crew and 16 children. No distress signal had been sent.

The six-year-old aircraft had requested to deviate from its submitted flight plan due to bad weather before communication was lost with Indonesian Air Traffic Control, AirAsia said in a statement. The disappearance comes just nine months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. That plane has yet to be found, in a mystery that captivated the world for months.

Transport Ministry official Hadi Mustofa Djuraid told Singapore’s Metro TV that contact with Flight 8501 was lost somewhere over the Java Sea between Indonesia’s Kalimantan portion of Borneo and Belitung island off the eastern coast of Sumatra.

The single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner had apparently been flying at 32,000 feet (9,700 meters) when the pilot requested to fly at 38,000 feet (11,600 meters) to avoid cloud cover. However, meteorologists indicate that cloud tops in the vicinity may have reached 53,000 feet (16,200 meters).

“The weather was not good—it was bad—at the estimated location the plane lost contact. We just received a weather report from the national meteorological, geophysics and climatology agency,” Hadi said.

Earth Networks, a firm that monitors weather conditions across the globe, said there had been a number of lightning strikes between 6:09 a.m. and 6:20 a.m. close to where Flight 8501 was supposed to fly, the New York Times reports.

Flying into a thunderstorm at high altitude may cause icing on control surfaces that freeze corrective actions by pilots, experts say, thus spurring aggressive aircraft maneuvers.

Indonesian Air Force spokesman Hadi Tjahjanto said three aircraft, including a surveillance plane, had been dispatched to the location where contact was lost. The Singapore Air Force and the navy were also scouring the region with two C-130 planes, the Associated Press reports.

“I am shocked to hear the news, and I am very worried that the plane might have crashed,” a 45-year-old woman with six family members on the plane told AFP at Changi Airport. “They have always flown with AirAsia and there was no problem.”

According to Mike Daniel, a Singapore-based aviation expert with more than three decades experience with the FAA, planes commonly change altitude and routes to avoid inclement weather. “That’s what you expect pilots to do,” he told TIME.

However, Daniel said, “Indonesia is not known for having the best radar coverage and weather radar coverage—they need to update it for both the airports and routes.”

Similarly to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the AirAsia flight’s operator is supposed to have constant supervision and vigilance on the location of its aircraft. “One of the first things the authorities have to do is confirm with the airline where the aircraft is thought to be,” Daniel said.

This information is crucial for search and rescue operations, for which the first critical day has now passed.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 said Flight 8501 was flying at typical cruising altitude of 32,000 feet (9,700 meters) when its signal was lost. This is unusual as planes most commonly get into trouble during takeoff or landing.

Quoted from : TIME
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 3:02 AM