- Antara Foto/Elza Elvia via REUTERS
- The Jakarta Post says Lion Air flight JT 610 from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, the largest city on Banka island has crashed with at least 188 on board, including passengers, crew, and pilots.
- The Boeing 737 was reportedly only delivered to Lion in August.
- Wreckage has been located not far from where the Lion Air flight took off for the 50-minute journey to the Banka island across the Natuna Sea off South Sumatra, at 6:20 a.m. Western Indonesian Time (WIB), Monday.
The downed Lion Air flight JT 610 that fell into coastal waters off Java after taking off for Pangkal Pinang on Bangka Island, Monday morning West Indonesian Time (WIB) was carrying 181 passengers, including two children and a baby, the Jakarta Post reported.
A spokesperson from Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry said on Monday that there were also two pilots and five flight attendants on the plane that left from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta and crashed barely 13 minutes later.
According to Reuters, JT 610 made a request to return to Jakarta shortly before losing contact. The (traffic) control allowed that, but then it lost contact,” Yohanes Sirait, a spokesman for the Indonesian air authorities said.
The plane was scheduled to land at Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang at 7:10 a.m. Jakarta time but lost contact minutes after takeoff and is thought to have sunk after hitting the water.
According to the Post, the flight was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, powered by twin CFM LEAP-1B engines, and had only been delivered to Lion Air in August.
Flightradar24, the Swedish internet-based service that shows real-time commercial aircraft flight tracker tweeted on Monday morning Jakarta time that the plane was “brand new.”
Wreckage had been found near where the plane lost contact with air traffic officials on the ground, said Muhmmad Syaugi, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, BASARNAS.
“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Syaugi told a news conference. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”
Syaugi said that Indonesian authorities are not yet in a position to confirm the exact number of fatalities, but told local media outlets that body parts have been seen floating near the crash site.
Of the 188 people on board, there were 178 adult passengers, one child, two babies and eight crew members, including the pilot and copilot.
A vessel traffic service officer in North Jakarta, told the Post that at 6:45 a.m. he received a report from a tugboat, the AS Jaya II, that members of the crew saw a plane go down, suspected to be JT 610 off Karawang, West Java.
Basarnas has sent out boats and helicopters to search for the plane and had also found wreckage, and life jackets.
About 150 rescuers, including 30 divers, have been dispatched to the crash scene.
The Lion Air flight took off for the 50-minute journey to the Banka island across the Natuna Sea off South Sumatra, at 6:20 a.m. Western Indonesian Time (WIB), Monday.
According to Indonesian media, TribunNews, the aircraft’s final contact was at 6:33 a.m. WIB with Jakarta Air Traffic Control.
A spokesman for Lion Air reportedly told local media the airline was trying to find information on the plane’s location.
The Boeing 737 Max-8 model was originally due to land at Pangkal Pinang at 07.10 am.
In December 2014 an AirAsia Airbus went down in similar waters between Surabaya and Singapore killing all 162 people on board.