AN INDONESIAN plane carrying 189 passengers plunged into the sea minutes after taking off this morning (Monday).
Lion Air flight JT610 reportedly lost contact with air control 13 minutes after leaving Jakarta destined for Pangkal Pinang on the island of Bangka.
Flight data shows it made a sudden, sharp dive into the sea shortly after the 6.20am take off.
While officials are waiting to recover the plane’s black boxes, cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder, to determine the cause of the crash, it has been confirmed that the pilot requested to ‘turn back’ shortly after leaving the airport.
A rescue and search operation is underway, but as yet there is no official information regarding casualties.
Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, posted footage from the crash site of debris and personal items such as handbags and clothing, floating in the water.
The jet, a Boeing 737 Max 8, was a new model which was launched globally last year and had only been in use two months.
According to British press reports, Lion Air’s chief executive officer, Edward Sirait, said the same plane had suffered a ‘technical issue’ last night (Sunday), but had been cleared to fly this morning.
He didn’t reveal what the ‘issue’ was, but said he had no plans to ground the rest of the 11-strong Max 8 fleet.
Australian government officials have reportedly been instructed not to fly Lion Air until the cause of the crash can be determined.