An aircraft operated by the Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air has crashed while on a domestic flight from Jakarta, the country’s rescue agency confirms.
Flight JT610 is operated by a Boeing-737 Max 8, capable of seating up to 210 passengers.
Flightradar24 says that the plane was fresh off the assembly line and was delivered to Lion Air in August.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the Indonesian rescue agency said, as cited by Reuters. The plane was on its way from Indonesian capital Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang on Sumatra, a flight slightly longer than an hour.
Latif said that the jet lost contact with air traffic control some 13 minutes into the flight, and crashed into the sea.
The plane requested an emergency landing almost immediately after it took off, Sindu Rahayu of the Air Transportation Directorate General said at a press conference. He added that the authorities lost contact with the plane after the request.
188 people, including crew, were on board a plane when it crashed, a transport ministry official said.
The plane was packed with passengers, officials confirmed at a press conference cited by BBC. 178 adults, one infant and two babies were on board. The crew included two pilots and five flight attendants.
Flight tracking service Flightradar24 says preliminary flight data shows a drop in the plane’s altitude and increase in speed before the transmission was cut.
The plane appears to have plunged into the sea just off the coast of Indonesia, the data provided by the service shows. It was reportedly at an altitude of 3,650 feet (about 1,112m) when the signal was lost.
A search and rescue has been launched.
There have been witnesses to the crash. The rescuers say that sailors on a tug boat that was on its way out of port saw the plane falling.
“At 7:15 a.m. the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane,” a vessel traffic officer in the area told the Jakarta Post. The crew first reported the crash to the maritime authority at 6.45 a.m. local time.
Debris of the plane, including seats, have been found floating in the Java sea near a facility belonging to Indonesia’s state oil firm Pertamina, a company official told Reuters.
A video showing numerous vessels approaching the apparent crash site has been posted. No survivors can bee seen in the footage.