Indonesia’s Lion Air said it has lost contact with a passenger jet flying from Jakarta to an island off Sumatra early Monday. A search and rescue agency that was launched for the Boeing 737-800 plane said Flight JT-610 has crashed into the sea, officials say. There were 188 people aboard, including passengers and crew.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the agency, said by text message, when asked about the fate of the Lion Air plane, according to Reuters. Latif said the plane had lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff.
The crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing all 162 on board.
The plane had departed Jakarta about 6:20 a.m. Monday. Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the plane was scheduled for a 1 hour and 10 minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra.
At a news conference, officials said the plane had been carrying 178 adults, one child and two babies, as well as two pilots and five cabin crew, BBC News reports.
BBC News flagged a tweet from the head of Indonesia’s disaster agency that apparently shows parts of the plane and personal belongings from the flight, including a crush smartphone, books and bags.
The Associated Press reports the Jakarta Search and Rescue Office cites the crew of a tug boat reporting a Lion Air flight falling from the sky. It said several vessels have headed to the location.
Local television coverage broadcast images of a fuel slick and debris field. The National Search and Rescue Agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 98 to 115 feet deep.
Flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted “preliminary data show an increase in speed and decrease in altitude at last transmission.” They posted an image of the flight track after takeoff, showing JT-610 looping south on take-off and then heading north before the flight path ended abruptly over the Java Sea, not far from the coast.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on the resort island of Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.