Singapore specialists and assets head to Indonesia to assist in search and rescue efforts

SINGAPORE - Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has said in a Facebook post that three ships from the Singapore Navy headed this evening to the area where the bodies and debris of AirAsia flight QZ8501 were found, The Straits Times reported.

Following the Indonesian authorities' acceptance and activation of additional assistance offered by Singapore, the Singapore Ministry of Transport's Air Accident Investigation Bureau specialists and their equipment will depart for the search area tomorrow morning, including the additional equipment and hydrography experts from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

In addition to the two C-130 aircraft which continued to fly two sorties today, the Republic of Singapore Air Force deployed two Super Puma helicopters to the search area.

The helicopters embarked on board the Republic of Singapore Navy's Landing ship tank (RSS Persistence).

According to a joint statement by the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), RSS Persistence has arrived at the search area, which is about 700km South-east of Singapore and over 50 times its size. RSS Persistence joins the Formidable-class frigate (RSS Supreme) and Missile corvette (RSS Valour) in the operation.

The Submarine support and rescue vessel (MV Swift Rescue) was deployed at 7pm.

To date, the Singapore Armed Forces has contributed two C-130 aircraft, two Super Puma helicopters and four navy ships.

Singapore has also offered to the Indonesian authorities, a disaster victim identification team comprising officers from the Singapore Police Force and the Health Sciences Authority, to help identify victims.

AirAsia has arranged for 13 next-of-kin to depart for Surabaya today. The airline said it will continue to provide the necessary assistance to the remaining NOKs who choose to remain in Singapore.