A Lion Air plane, which departed Jakarta airport, crashed off the coast of Indonesia shortly after takeoff on Monday.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737 Max, carried 188 passengers and crew.
“The plane was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, as well as two pilots and five cabin crews,” said Sindu Rahayu, director general of civil aviation at the Ministry of Transport. “The plane had asked to return to its base before finally disappearing off radar,” he said in a statement.
The pilot of Flight 610 had 6000 hours of experience, while his co-pilot had more than 5000.
The plane, which was heading to the town of Pangkal Pinang in Sumatra Island, lost contact with the authorities 13 minutes after takeoff, according to the authorities. The flight was to last 70 minutes.
In the past few hours, the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency has posted photos on which can be seen a crushed smartphone, books, bags and even fuselage parts of the plane. For its part, Indonesian television broadcast images of oil spills and debris.
The National Search and Rescue Agency said the plane landed in the water off the West Java province at a depth of 30 to 35 meters.
The head of the agency, Muhammad Syaugi, said at a press conference that divers were trying to locate the wreckage of the plane which, according to the Flightradar aviation site24, was brand new and had been delivered to Lion Air in August.
A spokesman for Boeing said that the giant “followed the situation closely,” without giving more details about the device involved in this tragedy.
The worst air disaster since 2014
This accident is the worst air disaster in Indonesia since an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea in December 2014, killing the 162 people on board .
Lion Air is one of the youngest and largest airlines in Indonesia serving dozens of domestic and international destinations.
In 2013, one of his Boeing 737-800s missed the runway by landing on the island of Bali, where he crashed into the sea without casualties among the 108 passengers .
In 2007, Indonesian airlines were banned from flying in Europe for security reasons, but several were allowed to return to service in the next decade. The ban was completely lifted last June. The United States lifted the ban that lasted a decade in 2016.