JAKARTA: A Lion Air flight with at least 188 people onboard from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang, which went missing just 13 minutes after take-off, had crashed, the Indonesian aviation authority officials said on Monday.
Confirming the development, Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Monday that 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.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the agency, said by text message when asked about the fate of the Lion Air flight.
The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, the official said, adding that a tugboat leaving the capital`s port had seen the craft falling.
Debris thought to be from the plane, including aircraft seats, was found near an offshore refining facility, an official of state energy firm Pertamina said.
The wreckage had been found near the spot where the Lion Air plane lost contact with air traffic officials on the ground, said Muhammad Syaugi, the head of the search and rescue agency.
“We don`t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Syaugi told a news conference.
“We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm,” he added.
The ill-fated jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to air tracking service Flightradar 24.
Flight JT610 took off around 6.20 AM and was scheduled to land in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining hub at 7.20 AM, the tracking service showed.
When quizzed by reporters earlier, Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group, said, “We cannot give any comment at this moment.”
“We are trying to collect all the information and data,” he added.
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.
Meanwhile, Boeing said that is aware of the plane accident reports and is “closely monitoring” the situation.