A Lion Air Boeing 737 passenger plane with 188 people on board has crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
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.
Flight JT 610 took off from Jakarta at 06:20 local time on Monday morning (23:30 GMT on Sunday).
It was due to arrive at Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang an hour later but 13 minutes into the flight, authorities lost contact with the plane.
The pilot had asked to return to Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta airport, the head of Pangkal Pinang’s search and rescue office, Danang Priandoko, told local news outlet Kompas.
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.
He also shared a video he said had been taken from a tugboat off Karawang, just east of Jakarta, which appeared to show floating debris and an oil slick.
Debris was also seen near an offshore oil refinery operated by state-owned energy firm Pertamina, an official from the firm said.
via: INFORMATION NIGERIA