Jakarta: An Indonesian Lion Air plane carrying 189 passengers and crew crashed into the sea Monday, officials said, moments after it had asked to be allowed to return to Jakarta. The plane vanished from radar just 13 minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital, plunging into the ocean.
The Lio Air flight JT 610 was on a scheduled flight to Pangkal Pinang, the main town in the Bangka Belitung Islands. Video footage apparently filmed at the scene of the crash showed a slick of fuel on the surface of the water.
Disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted pictures of debris, including what appeared to be an emergency slide and various parts of a smashed mobile phone, according to AFP.
Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Yusuf Latif said authorities were still searching for the remains of the plane, which lost contact with air traffic control around 6.30 am (2330 GMT), en route to Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka.
"The plane crashed into water about 30 to 40 metres deep," he told AFP.
Debris, thought to be from the plane, including aircraft seats, was found near an offshore refining facility in the Java Sea, an official of state energy firm Pertamina said.
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Muhmmad Syaugi, the head of the search and rescue agency said.
“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm. 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", he added.
Among the 189 on board, 181 were passengers, including one child and two babies, six crew members and two pilots. In a statement. Lion Air, said the plane's pilot and co-pilot had together amassed 11,000 hours of flying time.
The Flightradar website tracked the plane -- which it said was a Boeing 737 -- and showed it looping south on take-off and then heading north before the flight path ended abruptly over the Java Sea, not far from the coast.
Indonesian TV showed dozens of people waiting anxiously outside the Pangkal Pinang airport and officials bringing out plastic chairs. The transport ministry said crisis centers have been set up Pangkal Pinang's airport and Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta airport.
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