A Lion Air flight between Jakarta and an island off Sumatra has crashed, Indonesian search and rescue officials have said.
A search and rescue effort has been launched after the passenger jet lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff on Monday morning.
The Boeing 737-800 left the Indonesian capital at 6.20am and was headed north to arrive in Pangkal Pinang, on the island of Bangka, at around 7.20am.
At Depati Amir airport in Pangkal Pinang, anxious relatives of passengers wait for news
An official from Indonesia’s transport ministry has said there were 188 people on board, including crew.
The crew of a tug boat nearby told authorities they saw a plane falling from the sky – reports authorities in Jakarta’s eastern district, closest to the crash site, are working to verify.
“We can confirm that one of our flights has lost contact, its position cannot be ascertained yet,” Lion Air spokesperson Danang Mandala Prihantoro said.
Yusuf Latif, a spokesperson for the search and rescue agency said “it has been confirmed that it has crashed.”
Flight Radar said it was processing detailed information transmitted by the aircraft and that “preliminary data show an increase in speed and decrease in altitude at last transmission”.
We're following reports that contact has been lost with Lion Air flight #JT610 shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) October 29, 2018
The flight tracking service reported that the plane, powered by two CFM LEAP-1B engines, had been delivered to Lion Air in August this year.
The accident is the first involving the Boeing 737 MAX model, which are more fuel-efficient versions of the manufacturer’s single-aisle passenger jet. Lion Air subsidiary Malindo Air received the first delivery of the model in 2017.
Boeing tweeted it was “aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation”.
Boeing is aware of reports of an airplane accident and is closely monitoring the situation.
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) October 29, 2018
Low-cost carrier Lion Air began operating in 2000 and now operates 183 routes within Indonesia and surrounding countries including Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and China.
It is one of many new carriers in Indonesia, an island nation that relies heavily on air travel but has attracted a reputation for poor regulation.