Search and rescue efforts are underway in waters off Karawang, West Java, to locate survivors of Lion Air flight JT 610, which crashed early Monday morning (Oct 29) minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta airport.
Flight JT-610 was on a scheduled flight from the Indonesian capital to Pangkal Pinang, the main city in the Bangka Belitung Islands.
"The plane crashed into water about 30 to 40m deep", Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told AFP news agency.
Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency today posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.
The passenger airplane, which was operated by the Indonesian low-priced airline Lion Air, lost contact with the air traffic control at around 6:33 AM, a few minutes into the flight. Indonesia's rescue agency says they have found plane debris at the crash site, while a statement from Boeing on its Twitter handle said that "Boeing is aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation".
The Lion Air flight was carrying 188 people, including crew.
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The Lion Air flight took off for the 50 minute journey to the Banka island across the Natuna Sea off South Sumatra, at 6:20 a.m.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia's youngest and biggest airlines.
At least 23 government officials were on board the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact. The site where the plane crashed is within the Java sea.
It had been operated by the Lion Air Group since August, and the airline said it was airworthy.
"There was a technical problem reported after the previous flight the night before from Denpasar to Jakarta, and the problem was dealt with and the plane was subsequently released to fly by a certified engineer", he added. The aircraft, a Boeing-737 Max 8, has the capacity to carry 210 passengers. Its only fatal accident to date was when a MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City in 2004, killing 25 of the 163 people on board, according to the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network.
Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 were flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. That ban was lifted in June, as the US lifted a decade-long ban in 2016.
Flight tracker websites reported the plane had vanished from displays soon after takeoff.