JAKARTA -- A domestic passenger flight from Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang, off the island of Sumatra, has been confirmed to have crashed.
The jetliner was carrying 189 people and was operated by the country's largest private airline, Lion Air. It crashed on Monday.
Indonesia's National Search and Rescue Agency, or Basarnas, said at a news conference that the flight plunged into Karawang Bay in West Java Province. It is unknown whether there are any survivors.
"Search and rescue teams that have arrived at the location found plane debris, life vests and [body] parts," said Muhammad Syaugi, head of Basarnas. "We're trying to dive to the 30-35-meter depth to locate the plane body."
Flight JT610 took off from Jakarta at 6:20 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at the tin-mining hub of Pangkal Pinang an hour later. But air traffic controllers lost contact with the cockpit at 6:33 a.m. Syaugi said that the plane was at an altitude of 2,500 meters at the time.
The 189 people aboard include two pilots and six cabin attendants, according to Basamas. Quoting the head of Pangkal Pinang's search and rescue office, local media have reported that the pilot had earlier asked to return to Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta airport.
The aircraft, a Boeing 737 MAX, was delivered to Lion Air in August. It had only flown for 800 hours, according to Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of the National Transportation Safety Committee, KNKT.
"Debris from the Lion Air JT610 plane that crashed in the waters of Karawang [has been found]. Several tugboats are helping with evacuation [efforts]," said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, on Twitter, sharing video taken near the crash site. The spokesperson added that the video was taken by a tugboat officer.
According to Reuters, the accident is the first reported that involves the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, a more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet. Lion Air's Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the first global delivery in 2017 and was also the first to put the model into service, the same year.
Lion made headlines in 2011 by placing the largest order Boeing had ever received, a $21.7 billion deal for 230 planes. Then U.S. President Barack Obama was on hand on Bali for the signing ceremony. The Indonesian airline group said in 2017 that it had ordered 218 737 Max 8 jets in 2017.
In April this year the company announced it had purchased 50 Boeing 737 Max 10 planes, a deal valued at approximately $6.24 billion at list prices.
Boeing on Monday issued a statement saying it "stands ready to provide technical assistance to the accident investigation."
Established in 1999, Lion Air Group operates domestic flights as well as a number of international routes connecting Southeast Asia, Australia as well as the Middle East. Its founder, Rusdi Kirana, is the incumbent Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia.
The low-cost carrier, like other Indonesian airlines, has struggled with safety issues in the past and was banned from flying into European airspace until 2016. Pilots with the airline were found in possession of methamphetamines in a spate of incidents. In 2013, a flight to the tourist destination of Bali landed in the waterso waters near the Ngurah Rai International Airport. All 108 people on board survived.
Nikkei staff writer Erwida Maulia contributed to this article.