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No South Africans on missing plane: Govt

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The South African government is not aware of any South Africans on the AirAsia plane which went missing at the weekend, the international relations department said on Monday.

“We have not been alerted to any South Africans on that plane,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

The Associated Press reported AirAsia Flight QZ8501 vanished on Sunday morning in airspace thick with storm clouds on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore.

After the search expanded on Monday, Jakarta’s Air Force base commander Rear Marshal Dwi Putranto said an Australian Orion aircraft had detected “suspicious” objects near Nangka island, about 160km south-west of Pangkalan Bun, near central Kalimantan, or 1120km from where contact with the plane was lost.

It was not clear whether the objects were part of the missing plane, he said.

Earlier on Monday, Indonesia search and rescue chief Henry Bambang Soelistyo said it seemed certain the plane had crashed.

The last communication from the cockpit to air traffic control was a request by one of the pilots to increase altitude from 9754m to 11,582m because of the rough weather.

Air traffic control was not able to immediately grant the request because another plane was in the airspace, said Bambang Tjahjono, director of the state-owned company in charge of air traffic control.

By the time clearance could be given, Flight QZ8501 had disappeared, Tjahjono said, the Associated Press reported. SAPA

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