An aircraft with 189 people on board is believed to have sunk after crashing into the sea off Indonesia’s island of Java on Monday, shortly after takeoff from the capital on its way to the country’s tin-mining hub, officials said.
A spokesman for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said the Lion Air flight, JT610, lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, adding that a tug boat leaving the capital’s port had seen the craft falling.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” the spokesman, Yusuf Latif, said by text message, when asked about the fate of the plane, which air tracking service Flightradar 24 identified as a Boeing 737 MAX 8.
Debris thought to be from the plane, including aircraft seats, was found near an offshore refining facility in the Java Sea, an official of state energy firm Pertamina 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.
The flight took off from Jakarta around 6.20 a.m. and was due to have landed in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining region at 7.20 a.m., the Flightradar 24 website showed.
Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet (1,524 m) before losing, and then regaining, height, before finally falling toward the sea.
The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet.
Founded in 1999, Lion Air’s only fatal accident to date was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 people on board, the Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network says.