Mexico says presidential plane sale to help fund migration plan

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador attends a news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico June 10, 2019. REUTERS/Gustavo Graf

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday the sale of the former presidential jet and other aircraft from the last government would help fund efforts to curb migration under a deal struck last week with Washington.

The agreement reached on Friday averted escalating import tariffs of 5% on Mexican goods, which U.S. President Donald Trump had vowed to impose unless Mexico did more to contain migration via Central America to the United States.

In return, Mexico has agreed to toughen up its migration controls, including deploying its National Guard security force to its southern border with Guatemala.

“About how much this plan is going to cost, let me say, we have the budget,” Lopez Obrador said at his regular daily news conference. “It would come out of what we’re going to receive from the sale of the luxurious presidential plane.”

Lopez Obrador said the price tag of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner used by his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto would start at $150 million, citing a United Nations evaluation. The plane has been on sale for several months.

As soon as he took office in December, the leftist announced plans to sell the plane, whose spacious interior includes a bedroom and is emblazoned with official government seals on the walls and flat-screen monitors.

The jet was acquired in late 2012 for $218 million. It is on sale along with 60 government planes and 70 helicopters.

Lopez Obrador has shunned the often luxurious trappings of Mexico’s wealthy elites, choosing to fly coach.

He has also rolled out a string of welfare programs for the poor and the elderly, cut salaries for top civil servants and says he is saving public money by eliminating corruption.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, editing by Hugh Bronstein and Susan Thomas)

Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint news conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia September 18, 2018. Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS

By Darya Korsunskaya and Stephen Farrell

MOSCOW/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria’s seacoast was the result of a chain of tragic and chance circumstances.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said earlier that the aircraft was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft systems, but accused Israel of indirectly causing the incident, saying Israeli jets operating nearby had put the Russian plane in the path of danger. The ministry threatened to retaliate over what it called a hostile act.

Putin’s comments, made after talks with Hungary’s prime minister in Moscow, appeared to somewhat defuse the situation though he said Russia needed to look further into what happened.

“I looks most likely in this case that it was a chain of tragic chance events, because an Israeli aircraft did not shoot down our aircraft. But, without any doubt we need to seriously get the bottom of what happened,” Putin told reporters.

The Russian president said Moscow’s response to the incident would aim at securing the safety of Russian military personnel in Syria’s complex civil war in which various outside powers have backed opposing sides.

“As for retaliatory measures, they will be aimed first and foremost at further ensuring the safety of our military personnel and facilities in Syria. And these will be steps that everyone will notice,” Putin said.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russian service personnel on board, was brought down by anti-aircraft batteries of Moscow’s ally, Syria, in a “friendly fire” incident.

But the ministry said it held Israel responsible because, at the time of the incident, Israeli fighter jets were mounting air attacks on Syria targets and had only given Moscow one minute’s warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in the cross-fire.

“We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile,” Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russian state television. “As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished.”

ISRAEL BLAMES ‘INACCURATE’ SYRIAN FIRE

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) expressed sorrow at the deaths but blamed the Syrian government and its allies Iran and Hezbollah. “Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident,” the IDF said in a statement.

It said the initial Israeli inquiry into the incident found that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian surface-to-air anti-aircraft fire “caused the Russian plane to be hit and downed”.

“The Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air,” the statement said.

It added that by the time the Russian plane was struck, the Israeli jets were already out of Syria and back in their own airspace. The Russian plane was “not within the area of the operation” carried out by the Israeli jets, it said.

An Israeli diplomatic source said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was expected to speak shortly with Putin.

After the incident, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, that Moscow held Israel wholly responsible, Russian news agencies reported.

Israel’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the matter, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

RUSSIAN BLIND EYE

Any row between Israel and Russia could restrict Israel’s ability to carry out air strikes inside Syria on what it considers the greatest threat to its security from the Syrian conflict – build-ups of Iranian forces or groupings of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia.

Since intervening in Syria’s civil war in 2015, Russia has generally turned a blind eye to the Israeli attacks on these targets. Israel has conducted about 200 such attacks in the last two years, according to Israeli officials.

Amos Yadlin, Director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, said on Twitter the downing of the Russian plane could “limit the bid to stop Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the transfers of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.”

THREAT OF RETALIATION

Moscow said its plane disappeared from radar screens as it was coming in to land at the Hmeymim air base in western Syria late on Monday.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Israeli F-16 jets carrying out the air strikes used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.

“Hiding behind the Russian aircraft, the Israeli pilots put it in the line of fire of Syrian anti-aircraft systems. As a result, the Il-20 … was shot down by the (Syrian) S-200 missile system,” the ministry’s Konashenkov said.

He said the Israeli pilots “could not have failed to see the Russian aircraft, as it was coming in to land from a height of 5 km (three miles). Nevertheless, they deliberately carried out this provocation,” Konashenkov said.

“This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response,” he said, without giving details of what those measures would be.

The Israel military said that overnight its fighter jets had “targeted a facility of the Syrian Armed Forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

It said the weapons targeted in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia “were meant to attack Israel and posed an intolerable threat against it”.

The IDF statement said the “deconfliction” system used by the Israeli and Russian militaries “was in use tonight”, adding: “Israel will share all the relevant information with the Russian government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

Several countries have military operations under way around Syria, with forces on the ground or launching strikes from the air or from ships in the Mediterranean. In some cases, those countries are backing opposing sides in the Syrian war.

Foreign powers involved in the conflict – including Israel and Russia – operate hotlines to exchange operational details to avoid one side accidentally attacking the other’s forces.

However, diplomats and military experts have warned that the risk of inadvertent strikes is high.

(Additional reporting by Tom Balmforth and Andrew Osborn in Moscow; Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; John Irish and Sophie Louet in Paris; Phil Stewart in Washington and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Ash cloud from Hawaii volcano sparks red alert for aviation

Ash erupts from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Explosions intensified on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Tuesday, spewing ash and triggering a red alert for aircraft for the first time since the latest eruption began 12 days ago.

Ash erupts from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Ash erupts from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Ash and volcanic smog, or vog, as it is called, rose to 12,000 feet (3,657 meters) above Kilauea’s crater and floated southwest, showering cars on Highway 11 with gray dust and prompting an “unhealthy air” advisory in the community of Pahala, 18 miles (29 km) from the summit.

An aviation red alert means a volcanic eruption is under way that could spew ash along aircraft routes, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says on its website.

Ash was also a new hazard for residents of Hawaii’s Big Island, already grappling with volcanic gas and lava that has destroyed 37 homes and other structures and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

A shift in winds was expected to bring ash and vog inland on Wednesday and make them more concentrated, said John Bravender of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“We’re observing more or less continuous emission of ash now with intermittent, more energetic ash bursts or plumes,” Steve Brantley, a deputy scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO), said on a conference call with reporters.

Kilauea volcano's summit lava lake shows a significant drop of roughly 722 feet below the crater rim in this wide angle camera view showing the entire north portion of the Overlook crater May 6, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS

Kilauea volcano’s summit lava lake shows a significant drop of roughly 722 feet below the crater rim in this wide angle camera view showing the entire north portion of the Overlook crater May 6, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS

The observatory warned the eruption could become more violent.

“At any time, activity may become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles near the vent,” the HVO said in a statement on the change in aviation alert level to red from orange.

Ash is not poisonous but irritates the nose, eyes and airways. It can make roads slippery and large emissions could cause the failure of electrical power lines, said USGS chemist David Damby.

 

 

NEW FISSURE

The eruption has hit the island’s tourism industry.

Big Island summer hotel bookings have dropped by almost half from last year, Rob Birch, executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitor Bureau, told journalists on a conference call.

College exchange student Constantin Plinke, 24, was planning to go to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park before it was shut.

“We had a big list of things to do and maybe 80 percent of them were in the national park,” he said, after stopping by the side of the road to watch ash plumes rising into the air. “It’s sad.”

 

Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

The area taking the brunt of the eruption is about 25 miles (40 km) down Kilauea’s eastern flank, near the village of Pahoa. Lava has burst from the ground to tear through housing developments and farmland, threatening one of the last exit routes from coastal areas, state Highway 132.

The latest fissure in the earth opened on Tuesday, spewing lava and toxic gases that pushed air quality into “condition red” around Lanipuna Gardens and nearby farms, causing “choking and inability to breathe,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Hawaii County Civil Defense said.

Road crews put metal plates over steaming cracks on nearby Highway 130 and reopened it to give coastal residents an escape route should a lava flow reach the ocean and block another road, Highway 137, Civil Defense said.

No major injuries or deaths have been reported from the eruption.

A looming menace remains the possibility of an “explosive eruption” of Kilauea, an event last seen in 1924. Pent-up steam could drive a 20,000-foot (6,100-meter) ash plume out of the crater and scatter debris over 12 miles (19 km), the USGS said.

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester in Pahoa; additional reporting by Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu; Writing by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)

FAA to order inspections of jet engines after Southwest blast

U.S. NTSB investigators are on scene examining damage to the engine of the Southwest Airlines plane in this image released from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 17, 2018. NTSB/Handout via REUTERS

By Alwyn Scott and Alana Wise

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it will order inspection of about 220 aircraft engines as investigators have found that a broken fan blade touched off an engine explosion this week on a Southwest flight, killing a passenger.

The regulator said late on Wednesday it plans to finalize the air-worthiness directive within the next two weeks. The order, which it initially proposed in August following an incident in 2016, will require ultrasonic inspection within the next six months of the fan blades on all CFM56-7B engines that have accrued a certain number of takeoffs.

Airlines said that because fan blades may have been repaired and moved to other engines, the order would affect far more than 220 of the CFM56-7Bs, which are made by a partnership of France’s Safran <SAF.PA> and General Electric <GE.N>.

The CFM56 engine on Southwest <LUV.N> flight 1380 blew apart over Pennsylvania on Tuesday, about 20 minutes after the Dallas-bound flight left New York’s LaGuardia Airport with 149 people on board. The explosion sent shrapnel ripping into the fuselage of the Boeing 737-700 plane and shattered a window.

Bank executive Jennifer Riordan, 43, was killed when she was partially pulled through a gaping hole next to her seat as the cabin suffered rapid decompression. Fellow passengers were able to pull her back inside but she died of her injuries.

On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the incident began when one of the engine’s 24 fan blades snapped off from its hub. Investigators found that the blade had suffered metal fatigue at the point of the break.

Sumwalt said he could not yet say if the incident, the first deadly airline accident in the United States since 2009, pointed to a fleet-wide problem in the Boeing 737-700.

Southwest crews were inspecting similar engines the airline had in service, focusing on the 400 to 600 oldest of the CFM56 engines, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. It was the second time this kind of engine had failed on a Southwest jet in the past two years, prompting airlines around the world to step up inspections.

A NTSB inspection crew was also combing over the Boeing <BA.N> 737-700 for signs of what caused the engine to explode.

Sumwalt said the fan blade, after suffering metal fatigue where it attached to the engine hub, has a second fracture about halfway along its length. Pieces of the plane were found in rural Pennsylvania by investigators who tracked them on radar. The metal fatigue would not have been observable by looking at the engine from the outside, Sumwalt said.

Passengers described scenes of panic as a piece of shrapnel from the engine shattered a plane window, almost sucking Riordan out.

Riordan was a Wells Fargo <WFC.N> banking executive and well-known community volunteer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, the company said.

Videos posted on social media showed passengers grabbing for oxygen masks and screaming as the plane, piloted by Tammie Jo Shults, a former U.S. Navy fighter pilot, prepared for the descent into Philadelphia.

The airline expected to wrap up its inspection of the engines it was targeting in about 30 days.

The GE-Safran partnership that built the engine said it was sending about 40 technicians to help with Southwest’s inspections.

Pieces of the engine including its cowling – which covers its inner workings – were found about 60 miles (100 km) from Philadelphia airport, Sumwalt said. The investigation could take 12 to 15 months to complete.

In August 2016, a Southwest flight made a safe emergency landing in Pensacola, Florida, after a fan blade separated from the same type of engine and debris ripped a hole above the left wing. That incident prompted the FAA to propose last year that similar fan blades undergo ultrasonic inspections and be replaced if they failed.

(editing by David Stamp)

Suspected Russian jets bomb residential area near Damascus; kill 30

A boy walks on rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the Eastern Ghouta town of Misraba, Syria, January 4, 2018.

AMMAN (Reuters) – At least 30 civilians were killed early on Thursday when jets dropped bombs on a residential area in a besieged rebel enclave east of Syria’s capital, a war monitor said, identifying the planes as Russian.

At least four bombs flattened two buildings in the Eastern Ghouta town of Misraba, in an attack that killed around 20 and wounded more than 40 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and civil defense sources said.

Elsewhere in Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel enclave near Damascus, at least ten people were killed in aerial strikes in other nearby towns, the Observatory, rescuers and residents said.

The Observatory, a war monitor based in Britain, said 11 women and a child were among the dead in the strikes in Misraba, which it said were carried out by Russian planes.

Backed by Russian strikes, government forces have escalated military operations against Eastern Ghouta in recent months, seeking to tighten a siege that residents and aid workers say is a deliberate use of starvation as a weapon of war, a charge the government denies.

Russia rejects Syrian opposition and rights groups’ accusations that its jets have been responsible for deaths of thousands of civilians since its major intervention two years ago that turned the tide in the country’s nearly seven-year-old war in favor of President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow says it only attacks hardline Islamists.

Video footage posted on Thursday by activists on social media in Eastern Ghouta showed rescue workers pulling women and children from rubble. The footage could not be independently confirmed.

Jets also pounded Harasta, on the western edge of the enclave, where rebels this week besieged and overran a major military base which residents say the army uses to pound residential areas.

The rebel assault aimed partly to relieve the pressure of the tightening siege.

The United Nations says about 400,000 civilians besieged in the area face “complete catastrophe” because aid deliveries by the government are blocked and hundreds of people who need urgent medical evacuation have not been allowed outside the enclave.

Scores of hospitals and civil defense centers in Ghouta and across Syria have been bombed during the conflict in what the opposition said is a “scorched earth policy” to paralyze life in rebel-held areas.

Syrian state news agency SANA said on Thursday rebel shelling of the government-held capital Damascus killed one and injured 22 in the Amara district of the city.

A man stands on rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the Eastern Ghouta town of Misraba, Syria, January 4, 2018.

A man stands on rubble of damaged buildings after an airstrike on the Eastern Ghouta town of Misraba, Syria, January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

IDLIB PUSH

Supported by Iran-backed militias and intensive Russian bombing, the Syrian army has since last month waged a new campaign to push into the heart of another rebel-held part of Syria, Idlib province in the country’s northwest.

Idlib is a heavily populated area where over two million people live.

Rescue workers said there had been a spike in civilian casualties there in the last twenty days from stepped-up aerial strikes on residential areas, documenting 50 dead at least in that period.

“There have been at least six major massacres perpetrated by Russia in indiscriminate bombing of cities and towns with thousands fleeing their homes in the last two weeks,” said Mustafa al Haj Yousef, the head of Idlib’s Civil Defence, rescuers who work in opposition-held areas.

On Wednesday air strikes hit a maternity hospital in Idlib’s Ma’arat al-Nu’man city, killing five people, the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) charity, which supports the hospital, said.

The hospital, which SAMS said delivers around 30 babies a day, had been struck three times in four days and the last strikes temporarily put the hospital out of service.

Overnight, a family of seven was buried under rubble in Tel Dukan village, rescuers said.

The army has been gaining ground in Idlib and the adjoining eastern Hama countryside, with scores of villages seized from rebels mainly belonging to Tahrir al Sham, a coalition of jihadist groups with mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions also engaged in the battles.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington in Beirut; Editing by Nick Macfie and John Stonestreet)

Britain says fighters intercept Russian aircraft approaching Baltic states

RAF Typhoons fly above RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland,

LONDON (Reuters) – British Typhoon fighter jets have intercepted three Russian military transport aircraft approaching the Baltic States, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

The British fighters, scrambled from the Amari air base in Estonia, intercepted the Russian aircraft, which were not transmitting a recognized identification code and were unresponsive, the ministry said.

“We were able to instantly respond to this act of Russian aggression – demonstration of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense,” Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a statement.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Andrew Roche)

Russian forces in Syria fired on Israeli aircraft: Israeli newspaper

Vladimir Putin and Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Russian forces in Syria have fired at least twice on Israeli military aircraft, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to seek improved operational coordination with Moscow, Israel’s top-selling newspaper said on Friday.

Asked about the alleged incidents, however, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “In this case, Israeli press reports are far from reality.”

But Netanyahu, in remarks published by Israeli reporters whom he briefed by phone on his talks on Thursday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, said “there have been problems” regarding Israeli military freedom of operation in Syria.

He gave no details, but said: “If you don’t deal with the friction, it could develop into something more serious.”

The unsourced report in Yedioth Ahronoth made no mention of dates or locations for the two reported incidents, nor did it give any indication of whether the Israeli planes were hit.

Russia mounted its military intervention in Syria in September to shore Damascus up amid a now 5-year-old rebellion.

Separately, Israel’s Channel 10 TV said a Russian warplane approached an Israeli warplane off the Mediterranean coast of Syria last week but that there was no contact between them.

An Israeli military spokesman declined comment. Netanyahu’s office and the Russian embassy in Israel did not immediately respond.

Israel, which says it has carried out dozens of bombings in Syria to foil suspected arms handovers to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, was quick to set up an operational hotline with Moscow designed to avoid accidentally trading fire with Russian interventionary forces.

In Moscow on Thursday, Netanyahu told Putin in televised remarks: “I came here with one main goal – to strengthen the security coordination between us so as to avoid mishaps, misunderstandings and unnecessary confrontations.”

In an apparent allusion to Syria, Putin said: “I think there are understandable reasons for these intensive contacts (with Israel), given the complicated situation in the region.”

According to Yedioth, the reported Russian fire on Israeli planes was first raised with Putin by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who visited Moscow on March 15. At the time, Putin responded that he was unaware of the incidents, Yedioth said.

(Writing by Dan Williams and Jeffrey Heller; Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Russian Bombers Fly Near U.S. On Fourth of July

Officials at NORAD have confirmed that four Russian long-range bombers flew close to U.S. shores on Independence Day.

The first set of two bombers was intercepted by military fighter jets off the Alaskan coast.  The second pair were intercepted off the California coast.  Both sets stayed just far enough away from the coastline to be international airspace.

The first incident happened around 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time when two Air Force F-22 jets scrambled to intercept two Tupolev Tu-95 bombers.  Both of the two Russian planes were capable of carrying nuclear weapons.

The second incident happened 30 minutes later off the central California coast.  The bombers in this case were the same as the previous incident where they could carry nuclear payloads.

Officials would not say how close to American airspace the bombers reached before being intercepted by American aircraft.

“These are not unprecedented flights, but we are postured to respond whether Alaska or California,” NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek said. “At no time did the bombers enter North American sovereign airspace.”

U.S. To Send More Weapons, Soldiers to NATO

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday that the U.S. will send weapons, aircraft and troops as needed to NATO’s new rapid reaction force.  The force will defend Europe in the event of an aggressive move by Russia or ISIS.

President Obama made the commitment last year during a NATO summit but Carter is revealing the details of the plan.

“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia,” Carter said at Atlantik Brucke, a Berlin think tank that focuses on the German-U.S. relationship. “We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake: we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us. We will stand up to Russia’s actions and their attempts to re-establish a Soviet-era sphere of influence.”

The U.S. will provide intelligence and surveillance capabilities, special operations forces, transport aircraft and a range of weapons from bombers and fighters to ship-based missiles.  A large ground force is not part of the U.S. commitment.

Carter is attending his first NATO meeting as Defense Secretary and plans to bring a two-pronged approach to NATO’s needs:  the first is a strong defense against Russia in an attempt to stop them from establishing a Soviet-era influence on the region while partnering with Russia to fight Islamic terrorism.

Rescue Agency Admits Air Asia Flight “Likely At Bottom of Sea”

Search and rescue officials were admitting to the press what AirAsia officials have been trying to avoid:  that flight QZ8501 is at the bottom of the sea.

“Based on the co-ordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea,” Bambang Soelistyo, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency head, told reporters at a news conference in Jakarta.

The plane disappeared on Sunday carrying 162 people.  Officials say that the pilots requested a change in course due to bad weather but then disappeared without a distress call.

A spokesman for the Indonesian air force says that they have spotted an oil slick but they have not confirmed that is the location of the downed plane.

We are very devastated by what’s happened, it’s unbelievable,” AirAsia chief Tony Fernandes said.