JAKARTA — Indonesia’s disaster agency says a Lion Air passenger jet crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta and was carrying 188 passengers and crew.
Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho posted photos on Twitter of debris including a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.
He said the flight was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and seven crew members.
The Boeing 737-800 plane departed Jakarta, about 6:20 a.m. for Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra. Data for Flight 610 on aircraft tracking website FlightAware ends just a few minutes following takeoff.
“We can confirm that one of our flights has lost contact,” said Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro. “Its position cannot be ascertained yet.”
A telegram from the National Search and Rescue Agency to the air force has requested assistance with the search of a location at sea off Java.
A report to 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.
Indonesian TV showed dozens of people waiting anxiously outside the Pangkal Pinang airport and officials bringing out plastic chairs.
There was no immediate confirmation of how many people were on board, but the maximum capacity would be about 190.
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.