There is slim chance of finding survivors on board missing flight AirAsia flight QZ8501, a leading aviation safety expert has said.
A Briton is among the 162 people on board the flight, which lost contact with traffic control shortly before 00.30 (GMT) today on its journey from Surabaya to Singapore.
David Learmount, Flight Global's operations and safety editor, said it was "routine" for pilots to request diversions when approaching stormy conditions, as was the case with the Airbus A320-200.
He said: "We're not just talking about thunder and lightning here.
"Storms can be very, very powerful indeed and rip a medium-sized aeroplane completely apart, that's why a pilot will routinely ask to divert around them.
"The plane could not still be airborne - it was a short-haul flight, there would be no fuel for staying in the air for quite as long as this."
Learmount, who is a pilot, also ruled out the likelihood of passengers surviving a sea landing.
He added: "The pilots were talking to air traffic control right until the last minute.
"Something distracted their attention so they were no longer able to keep talking. We don't know what happened at the moment, and it doesn't appear to be a deliberate act.
"We can speculate ad infinitum when the only thing we can go on is that it is missing.
"But I think the prognosis is not good."Suggest a correction