A LION Air jet has crashed into the ocean after taking off from Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta.
The plane — with a seating capacity of 210 — lost radio contact just 13 minutes into the flight which was headed to Pangkal Pinang, an island east of Sumatra.
The aircraft disappeared near Karawang in West Java province, said Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the National Search and Rescue Agency confirmed.
According to Reuters, Lion Air flight JT610 requested to return to base, with air traffic control losing contact with the pilots after approving the request.
A tugboat crew in Karawang has now reported seeing “debris of a plane” in the water, and a vessel belonging to Indonesia energy firm Pertamina official has reported seeing more debris, including plane seats, near its offshore facility in the Java Sea.
Indonesia transport ministry official says it was carrying 189 people — including two infants and its crew.
Pictures and video released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency appear to show personal items including a bag, phone and documentation among suspected debris from the crashed plane.
Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief, M Syaugi said the agency had already found other debris from the aircraft including mobile phones and buoys.
He said the aircraft lost contact at 34 nautical miles from the Basarnas office in Jakarta and the agency had immediately deployed boats and a helicopter to search.
“Once we arrived at the co-ordinates we found aircraft debris, buoys, handphones as well as some other pieces. It was around two nautical miles from the co-ordinates given by air traffic control,” Mr Syaugi said.
“We are there now, our vessels and helicopter, to give assistance.
“The water there is around 30 to 35 metres deep. We are now still trying to dive to find the aircraft. Hopefully the process would not take long.”
CRASH SITE FOUND
Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) spokesman, Yusuf Latif, told News Corporation the aircraft has crashed near Tanjung Karawang in the waters off West Java.
“It has crashed in the waters in West Java. Our team has been deployed,” Mr Latif said.
The Lion Air plane lost contact with air traffic controllers at 6.33am. Flight JT-610 took off from the Jakarta airport at 6.20am local time and lost contact at 6.33am. The Boeing 737 was originally scheduled to arrive at Pangkal Pinang at 7.20am.
A shipping traffic officer in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, Suyadi, told The Jakarta Post that he has received a report from a tugboat, AS Jaya II, that the crew had seen a downed plane in Tanjung Bungin in Karawang, West Java.
“At 7.15am the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane,” Suyadi said.
Two other ships, a tanker and a cargo ship, near the location were approaching the site, he said, and a Basarnas rescue boat was also on the way.
Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) chief, M Syaugi said the agency had found debris. He said the aircraft lost contact at 34 nautical miles (63km) from the Basarnas office in Jakarta and the agency had immediately deployed boats and a helicopter to search.
“Once we arrived at the co-ordinates we found aircraft debris, buoys, handphones as well as some other pieces. It was around two nautical miles (4km) from the co-ordinates given by air traffic control,” Mr Syaugi said.