Minutes after take-off from Jakarta, Lion Air plane with 188 on board crashes into sea

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Monday a Lion Air passenger flight from Jakarta, the capital, to the city of Pangkal Pinang off the island of Sumatra, had crashed into the sea. The flight was carrying 188 people, including crew, an Indonesia transport ministry official said.

The debris, including plane seats, have been found near the offshore facility of Indonesia energy firm Pertamina in Java sea, a company official said.

The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, the official said, adding that a tug boat leaving the capital’s port had seen the craft falling. The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to air tracking service Flightradar 24.

Flight JT610 took off around 6.20 a.m. and was due to have landed in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining hub at 7.20 a.m., the tracking service showed.

“We cannot give any comment at this moment,” said Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group. “We are trying to collect all the information and data.”

A news conference would be held later on Monday, he told Reuters.

Plane maker Boeing said in a tweet that it was aware of reports of an airplane accident and it was “closely monitoring” the situation.

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. The first Boeing 737 MAX jets were introduced into service in 2017.

Lion Air’s Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the very first global delivery.

The last major accident in Indonesia was in December 2014 when AirAsia Indonesia’s Airbus A320 aircraft crashed into the waters after taking off from Surabaya to Singapore with 162 people on board.