Indonesian aircraft “Lion Air flight, JT610” with 189 passengers on board crashed into sea after takeoff from Jakarta

An Indonesian plane with 189 people on board crashed into the sea and sank on Monday soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, on a flight to a tin-mining region, officials said.

Indonesia’s search and rescue agency confirmed the crash of Lion Air flight, JT610, adding that it lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, and a tug boat leaving the capital’s port saw it fall.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft’s emergency transmitter.

Items such as hand phones and life vests were found in waters about 30 meters to 35 meters (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact, he stated.

Ambulances were lined up at Karawang, on the coast east of Jakarta and police were preparing rubber dinghies, a Reuters reporter said.

At least 23 government officials were on board the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact.

“We don’t dare to say what the facts are, or are not, yet,” Edward Sirait, the chief executive of Lion Air Group, told Reuters. “We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane.”

The privately owned airline said in a statement, the aircraft, which had only been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.

The head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane’s black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.

“The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox,”

The weather at the time of the crash was clear.

Investigators will focus on the cockpit voice and data recorders and building up a picture of the brand-new plane’s technical status, the condition and training of the crew as well as weather and air traffic recordings.

The effort to find the wreckage and retrieve the black boxes represents a major challenge for investigators in Indonesia,