‘Goodbye, forever,’ joked AirAsia passenger before plane vanished

The AirAsia plane went missing on Sunday with 162 people on board en route to Singapore

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In an unfortunate twist of fate, one of the passengers on the missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 had joked “goodbye forever” to a friend hours before the plane vanished en route from Indonesia to Singapore.

Speaking to Indonesia's TV One on Sunday, the friend, a man in his 20s, said: "This morning, before I went to pray, one of them called me and jokingly said: 'See you in the new year and goodbye forever.’

"That's all and then the bad news came."

The man had himself planned to travel on the ill-fated flight, but had canceled due to other plans.

"Yes, I planned to spend (New Year's Day) in Singapore actually … I should have gone with them but I cancelled it two weeks ago as I had something to do."

"I have two friends who were with five family members [on the flight]," he said tearfully, adding "I hope for a miracle and may God save them all.”

'Crashed at sea'

The AirAsia plane went missing on Sunday with 162 people on board en route to Singapore and is likely at the bottom of the sea, Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency chief said Monday.

“Based on the coordinates 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 told a press conference.

“That’s the preliminary suspicion and it can develop based on the evaluation of the result of our search.”

Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia launched a search operation near Belitung island in the Java Sea, the area where the airliner lost contact with the ground. Early on Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry announced that its government offered to help in the search.

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