Midday Roundup: Search finds no sign of missing AirAsia plane

by Leigh Jones
Posted 12/29/14, 11:48 am

Another missing plane. Search crews are once again scouring the seas for signs of a missing Malaysian passenger jet. The AirAsia flight on route from Surabaya, Indonesia, to Singapore disappeared Sunday over the Java Sea. Flight 8501 had 162 people on board. Shortly before losing contact with air traffic control, the pilot asked for permission to rise to a higher altitude to avoid stormy weather. His request was denied because another plane was flying at that altitude close by. An Indonesian official said he believes the plane is somewhere on the ocean floor. Today’s search ended with no sign of the plane and will resume tomorrow. During a news conference on Sunday, AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes told reporters the company had never lost a life, until now. AirAsia is one of only two airlines based in Malaysia. The other is Malaysia Airlines, which lost two planes earlier this year—MH 370 disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March and has never been found and MH 17 was shot down over Ukraine a few months later.

Ferry disaster. Greek search and rescue teams pulled the last bodies from a foundered passenger ferry today, bringing the death toll to eight. The vessel was sailing from Greece to Italy over the weekend when a fire broke out just before dawn Sunday. Rough seas and high winds hampered rescue efforts. At least one person was killed during attempts to pull passengers from the ferry. Italian and Greek ships and helicopters worked through the night to carry people to safety. The fire started on a car deck, and passengers huddled on the upper decks, pelted by stinging rain and hail as they tried to avoid the thick smoke.

Frontrunner. Jeb Bush has taken an early and substantial lead in the first presidential poll out since he announced he would explore the possibility of a White House run in 2016. According to a CNN/ORC poll, 23 percent of Republicans nationwide said they would vote for the former Florida governor. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came in second, with 13 percent. That 10-point difference is the first time in the last two years a presidential candidate has had a lead outside the poll’s margin of error.

Snarky stargazer. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson took a swipe at Christmas last week and spent the weekend contemplating the principle of going viral. His series of what some characterized as anti-Christian tweets were re-tweeted almost 70,000 times. On a good day, a deGrasse Tyson tweet might get 13,000 re-tweets. The magic formula? Be snarky about Christmas on Christmas Day. On Thursday, deGrasse Tyson tweeted: “On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642” A little later, he posted: “Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).” The host of StarTalk declared himself “astounded” by his comments’ popularity.

Leigh Jones

Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.

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