A brand new Indonesian Lion Air plane carrying 189
passengers and crew crashed into the sea on Monday.
Officials say it crashed moments
after it had asked to be allowed to return to Jakarta.
The Boeing-737 MAX, which went into service just months ago,
vanished from radar 13 minutes after taking off from the Indonesian capital,
plunging into the Java Sea.
Video footage apparently filmed at the scene of the crash
showed a slick of fuel on the surface of the water.
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Disaster agency spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho tweeted
pictures of debris, including what appeared to be an emergency slide and
various parts of a smashed mobile phone.
Authorities were still searching for the remains of the
plane, which lost contact with air traffic control around 06:30 (23:30 GMT), en
route to Pangkal Pinang city, a jumping off point for beach-and-sun seeking
tourists on nearby Belitung island.
"The plane crashed into water about 30 to 40 metres
deep," said Search and Rescue Agency spokesperson Yusuf Lati.
Crying families of passengers
Images filmed at Pangkal Pinang's main airport showed
families of passengers crying, talking frantically on their mobiles phone and
hugging each other.
Some were heard saying "Ya Allah" or "Oh
Indonesia's National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC)
said there were 178 adult passengers, one child, two infants, two pilots and
six cabin crew on board flight JT 610.
The transport ministry had initially said there was a total
of 188 people on board.
The finance ministry said around 20 of its employees were on
It was not immediately clear if any foreigners were on the
downed plane, which Lion said was a new, airworthy plane that had only gone
into service in August.
The pilot and co-pilot had more than 11 000 hours of flying
time between them, it added.
"Lion Air is very concerned about this incident and
will work with relevant agencies and all parties," said spokesperson
Danang Mandala Prihantoro.
The Flightradar website tracked the plane 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.