A passenger plane from airline Lion Air crashed into the sea just minutes after taking off from Jakarta. At the time of the accident, 188 people were on board the aircraft.
The plane lost contact with air traffic controllers just 13-minutes after it took off, according to The Guardian. The flight was headed for Pangkal Pinang, just an hour’s flight away from its departure point. Scheduled at 6:20 am local time, the plane was supposed to arrive at its destination at 7:20 am, but was missing under a quarter of an hour later.
A spokesperson for search and rescue efforts, Yusuf Latif, confirmed that the plane had crashed into the ocean just off the coast of the city via text message.
Flight JT610 was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, capable of carrying up to 200 passengers on board.
At the North Jakarta Tanjung Priok port, there were reports that wreckage from the aircraft had been seen in the water, near where the plane is estimated to have gone down.
Muhammad Syaugi, head of the search and rescue agency, stated that the fate of the passengers is not yet known.
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors. We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
Serpihan pesawat Lion Air JT 610 yang jatuh di perairan Karawang. Beberapa kapal tug boad membantu menangani evakuasi. Video diambil petugas tug boad yang ada di perairan Karawang. pic.twitter.com/4GhKcRYkpG— Sutopo Purwo Nugroho (@Sutopo_PN) October 29, 2018
Syaugi also added that no distress signal from the aircraft had been received on the ground.
A vessel traffic officer, Suyadi, reported that at 6:45 am he had “received a report from a tugboat that had identified a downed plane.”
“At 7:15am the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane,” he said.
He made no comment on the passengers who had been aboard the aircraft.
Both a tanker and a cargo ship had approached the site, and a search and rescue team was immediately dispatched to search for any survivors. An official of state energy firm Pertamina stated that debris, including seats from the aircraft, were found close to an offshore refining facility.
At this stage, there is no word on the cause of the accident, and an official for Indonesia’s safety transport committee, Soerjanto Tjahjono, has said he would have to wait until the plane’s black boxes are recovered from the aircraft before any assumption can be made as to the cause.
“We will collect all data from the control tower. The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox.”
This is the first accident to involve the Boeing 737 MAX jets, which were first introduced into the air in 2017.