A Lion Air flight from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang, the largest city on Banka island crashed on Monday morning shortly after taking off from the capital Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, according to Indonesia search and rescue officials.
At least 188 people were on board, officials said.
Wreckage had been found near where the plane lost contact with air traffic officials on the ground, said Muhmmad Syaugi, the head of the search and rescue agency.
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Syaugi told a news conference. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
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. Western Indonesian Time (WIB), Monday.
According to Indonesian media, TribunNews, the aircraft’s final contact was at 06.33 WIB with Jakarta Air Traffic Control.
A spokesman for Lion Air reportedly told local media the airline was trying to find information on the plane’s location.
Initial data from Flight Radar 24 suggests the plane went down in coastal waters off Java.
The Boeing 737 Max-8 model was originally due to land at Pangkalpinang at 07.10
In December 2014 an AirAsia Airbus went down in similar waters between Surabaya and Singapore killing all 162 people on board.
Aviation tracking website Flightradar24 says the Lion Air plane that crashed after takeoff from Jakarta was a brand-new aircraft that has only been in use for a couple of months.
The site says the 737 Max 8 plane was registered as PK-LQP and was delivered to the airline in August.
Vessels searching in the water for the Flight 610 wreckage have found various items of debris.
The Max 8 is part of Boeing Co.’s latest narrow-body 737 series. It replaced the similar 737-800 in the Chicago-based planemaker’s product line.
Boeing spokesman Paul Lewis says Boeing is “closely monitoring the situation” but did not provide details on the aircraft in question.
Image : Relatives of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 that crashed into the sea, cry at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia, October 29, 2018
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