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AirAsia Flight 8501

Indonesia rescue chief: Missing AirAsia flight likely 'at the bottom of the sea'

AirAsia Flight 8501 disappeared Sunday morning en route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore, and rescue officials aren't optimistic about the fate of the aircraft and its 162 passengers and crew members.

"Based on the coordinates that we know, the evaluation would be that any estimated crash position is in the sea, and that the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea," Indonesia search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said at a press conference on Monday.

Aircraft and ships from at least four countries are searching for signs of the missing Airbus A320-200, as are local fishing vessels from Belitung island, near where the plane disappeared. An Indonesian helicopter found an oil slick on the Java Sea near Belitung, and an Australian search plane spotted wreckage near Nangka island, but there's no confirmation either is related to the crash.

The comparisons to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which is still missing 10 months after vanishing, are inevitable (The Associated Press has an entire article on the similarities and differences), but officials say they expect to wrap up the AirAsia Flight 8501 mystery much faster. --Peter Weber