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US helps in search for missing AirAsia jet

WASHINGTON: The United States deployed a destroyer to help look for a missing AirAsia jetliner, US officials said Monday, amid fears the aircraft crashed into the sea.

The USS Sampson was expected to arrive Tuesday to the search zone for Flight QZ8501, which disappeared on Sunday over the Java Sea with 162 people on board.

“The US Navy is working closely with the government of Indonesia to identify additional surface or airborne capabilities that best assist their search efforts,” the Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

The State Department earlier said that Indonesia had officially requested US help and confirmed that no Americans were on board the flight.

“Our embassy in Jakarta is in close contact with Indonesian officials, and today, we received a request for assistance locating the airplane,” said Jeffrey Rathke, a State Department spokesman.

“We are reviewing that request to find out how best we can meet Indonesia’s request for assistance.”

He noted it would take “a little bit of time” to evaluate the request, without detailing what kind of aid the United States might provide.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said the aid could include “some air, surface and sub-surface detection capabilities.”

“We stand ready to assist in any way possible,” he said in a statement.

Dozens of aircraft and ships were searching for the missing plane, which went missing en route from Surabaya in Indonesia’s east Java to Singapore after the pilots requested a change of flight plan due to stormy weather.

The missing plane is the third crisis for a Malaysian carrier this year.

Australia, Malaysia and Singapore have joined the Indonesia-led search as anguished relatives awaited news of their loved ones- AFP

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