A Boeing 737 passenger plane with 188 people on board operated by Lion Air has crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. No survivors have been found yet.
Flight JT 610 was headed for Pangkal Pinang, in the Bangka Belitung Islands, when it lost contact and is believed to have ended up under water.
The plane was a new type of aircraft and it is unclear what caused the crash. Lion Air is Indonesia’s largest low-cost carrier.
“The plane crashed into water about 30m to 40m deep,” Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told AFP news agency. “We’re still searching for the remains of the plane.”
Items believed to belong to passengers have been found in the water, including ID cards and driver’s licences, the search and rescue agency said on Twitter.
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” the agency’s head, Muhmmad Syaugi, told reporters.
“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
At an earlier news conference, officials said the plane had been carrying 178 adults, one infant and two babies, as well as two pilots and five cabin crew. However, there are conflicting reports on the exact number of people on board.
The head of Indonesia’s disaster agency, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, has tweeted images which he said showed debris and personal belongings that came from the aircraft and had been found floating in the sea.
Debris was also seen near an offshore oil refinery operated by state-owned energy firm Pertamina, an official from the firm said.
Lion Air said in a statement that the pilot and co-pilot were experienced, with more than 11,000 flight hours between them.
Three of those on board were trainee flight attendants and one was a technician.
At least 20 employees from Indonesia’s finance ministry were on board, the BBC has learned.
A spokesperson for Indonesia’s finance ministry Nufransa Wira Sakti said they worked at the finance ministry offices in Pangkal Pinang but had been in Jakarta for the weekend. They routinely took this flight.