China offers help in search for missing AirAsia flight

China offers help in search for missing AirAsia flight
An Indonesian woman breaks down while holding a family picture of passengers onboard the missing Malaysian air carrier AirAsia flight QZ8501, outside the crisis-centre set up at Juanda International Airport in Surabaya on December 29, 2014.

BEIJING - China offered Monday to send aircraft and ships to help in the international search for a missing AirAsia flight that disappeared off Indonesia over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry said.

"China has already said to Indonesia that it is willing to urgently send planes and ships to participate in search and rescue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Beijing "will provide other aid according to Indonesia's needs," the statement added.

The Airbus A320-200 with 162 people on board disappeared over the Java Sea en route from Surabaya in Indonesia's east Java to Singapore, in the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.

Australia, Singapore and Malaysia deployed planes and ships to assist in the search as anguished relatives anxiously waited for news of their loved ones more than a day after flight QZ8501 disappeared.

China said in a statement Sunday it was "deeply concerned about the safety of the people on board" would "like to send a message of solidarity to their family members".

Beijing had consulted Chinese embassies and a consulate, and found there were no Chinese citizens on board, Hua added.

China was deeply affected by the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, which disappeared in March and has yet to be found.

That flight had 152 Chinese citizens on board, and some family members have blamed Chinese authorities for turning against them in the aftermath of the plane vanishing.

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