Indonesia's disaster agency said Monday that the plane had been carrying 189 passengers and crew. Indonesia's search and rescue agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told Reuters "It has been confirmed that it has crashed." According to the Jakarta Post, a total of 181 passengers, including three children, as well as two pilots and six flight attendants were on board the Lion Air passenger jet.
The Straits Times reported earlier on Monday that the Boeing 737, bound for the city of Pangkal Pinang on the Indonesian island of Bangka lost contact with air traffic control at 6:33 a.m. local time (23:33 GMT). The Straits Times reported that the Indonesian authorities have launched search and rescue operations.
The Jakarta Post reported Monday that the crew of a tugboat operating in the area where the incident presumably happened had spotted the wreckage of the plane.
"At 7:15 a.m. the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane," A vessel traffic service officer in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta told The Jakarta Post. As of 9 a.m. there was no report about passengers or the plane's crew, he said.
— Viswesh (@Visweshchandar) 29 октября 2018 г.
Two other ships, a tanker and a cargo ship, near the location were approaching the site in Tanjung Bungin in Karawang, West Java, a vessel traffic service officer said, adding that rescue crews were also on the way.
— Taz Imansyah (@KaitouTaz) 29 октября 2018 г.
According to AP, Lion Air, a low-cost airline, is one of Indonesia's youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing at the resort island of Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.
The recent accident is reportedly the first to involve 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, Reuters said.
Xinhua reported Monday, citing Indonesia's Transport Ministry, that Flight JT610 had requested to return to base before vanishing from the radars. Lion Air said in a statement that the passenger plane that crashed on Monday north of Indonesia's island of Java was airworthy and its pilot and co-pilot had 11,000 hours of flying time between them.
— Balqis Sidiqia (@BalqisSidiqia) 29 октября 2018 г.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency told Sputnik that a rescue team is preparing to dive in the area of the crash. "Plane is in the water. The special Group Basarnas prepare to underwater dive," the spokesperson said.
— Valerie Ramirez (@valram733) 29 октября 2018 г.