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Plane with 162 passengers reported missing en route to Singapore

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(File photo/MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The search is on for AirAsia Flight 8501, which lost contact with air traffic control in Indonesia, the airline said Sunday.

Flight QZ 8501 from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control at 7:24 a.m. Sunday (7:24 p.m. Saturday ET), AirAsia said

“At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available,” AirAsia said in a statement.

The plane took off with 155 passengers and crew on board, the news agency Reuters reported, citing Indonesian transport officials.

The flight, an Airbus A320-200, was on its way from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, according to the airline’s website.

The plane left Juanda International Airport at 5:27 a.m. Sunday (5:27 p.m. Saturday ET) and was due to arrive in Singapore at 8:37 a.m. Sunday (7:37 p.m. ET), according to the website.

Bad weather might have been a factor in the plane’s disappearance, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.

“We still had lines of very heavy thunderstorms” when the plane was flying, Van Dam said. “But keep in mind, turbulence doesn’t necessarily bring down airplanes.”

AirAsia is a Malaysia-based airline that is popular in the region as a budget carrier. It has about 100 destinations, with subsidiaries in several Asian countries.

The airline has a “very good” reputation for safety, CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest said.

The loss of contact with the AirAsia plane comes nearly 10 months after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which dropped off radar over Southeast Asia on March 8.

Searchers are yet to find any debris from Flight 370, which officials believe crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

U.S. President Barack Obama has been briefed, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said, adding that American officials will continue to monitor the situation.

AirAsia released this statement:

AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24hrs this morning.

At the present time we unfortunately have no further information regarding the status of the passengers and crew members on board, but we will keep all parties informed as more information becomes available.

The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC.

At this time, search and rescue operations are in progress and AirAsia is cooperating fully and assisting the rescue service

AirAsia has established an Emergency Call Centre that is available for family or friends of those who may have been on board the aircraft. The number is: +622129850801.

AirAsia will release further information as soon as it becomes available. Updated information will also be posted on the AirAsia website, www.airasia.com.

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