The Lion Air flight, JT610, lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said. The agency posted photos online showing a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage which had been collected by search and rescue vessels.
Around 300 people, including soldiers, police and local fishermen were involved in the search – which has so far recovered body parts, ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.
Lion Air said the brand-new Boeing 737, which was on a 1-hour-and-10-minute flight to Pangkal Pinang on an island chain off Sumatra, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.
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Hello, these are the latest updates in the search and rescue operation which has been launched to locate the passengers of a Lion Air plane which crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Indonesia's capital.
"We don't know yet whether there are any survivors," the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, Muhmmad Syaugi, said, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft's emergency transmitter.
"We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm."
Items such as handphones and life vests were found in waters about 30m to 35m (98ft to 115ft) deep near where the plane lost contact, he said.
"We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist," Mr Syaugi said. "We are trying to dive down to find the wreck."
Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency's deputy chief, Nugroho Budi Wiryanto, said some 300 people including soldiers, police and local fishermen are involved in the search and that so far it has recovered no bodies — only ID cards, personal belongings and aircraft debris.
"We are waiting for the miracle from God," said Mr Wiryanto, when asked if there's any hope of survivors.
Indonesia's search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30m to 35m (98ft to 115ft) deep.
The agency's chief Muhammad Syaugi told a news conference that divers are trying to locate the wreckage.
Weather conditions for the flight were safe, according to the Indonesian meteorology agency. It said the type of clouds associated with turbulence was not present and winds were weak.
Indonesia's president, Joko Widodo, said he has ordered the National Commission for Transportation Safety to investigate the Lion Air crash.
He said rescuers are making their best efforts to find victims and urged Indonesians "to keep on praying."
Mr Widodo, speaking in Bali where he was attending a conference, said he felt the anxiety of families and hoped they could remain calm while rescuers were working hard at the crash location at sea northeast of Jakarta.
Aviation tracking website Flightradar24 said the Lion Air plane was a brand-new aircraft that has only been in use for a couple of months.
The site said the 737 Max 8 plane was registered as PK-LQP and was delivered to the airline in August.
Vessels searching in the water for the Flight 610 wreckage have found various items of debris.
The Max 8 is part of Boeing Co.'s latest narrow-body 737 series. It replaced the similar 737-800 in the Chicago-based planemaker's product line.
Boeing said it was "deeply saddened" by the Lion Air off crash and offered to help with the investigation.
Searchers so far have found plane debris and personal items but no bodies.
The Chicago-based planemaker said it is prepared to provide technical assistance into the crash probe, which will be carried out by Indonesian investigators.
In its statement, Boeing Co expressed its concern for the 189 people onboard, and offered "heartfelt sympathies to their families and loved ones".
Rescuers have retrieved body parts from the crashed plane, a spokesman has said.
Indonesian TV broadcast pictures of a fuel slick and debris field where Lion Air flight JT610 reportedly crashed into the sea off the coast of Java island (AFP/Getty Images)
One of the pilots of the Lion Air plane that crashed was an Indian citizen and one Italian passenger was on board, the director of Lion Air has said.
An Indian embassy official in Jakarta, Debashis Biswas, identified the pilot as Bhavye Suneja.
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