The plane requested an emergency landing almost immediately after it took off, Sindu Rahayu of the Air Transportation Directorate General said at a press conference. He added that the authorities lost contact with the plane after the request.
Flight #JT610 was on a scheduled flight to Pangkal Pinang, the main town in the Bangka Belitung Islands.
It lost contact with ground control a few minutes after take-off, and is believed to have ended up underwater.
“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the Indonesian rescue agency, said, as cited by Reuters. The plane was on its way from the Indonesian capital, Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang on Sumatra, a flight slightly longer than an hour.
The Boeing 737 MAX8 took off at 23:21 UTC from Jakarta. Last ADS-B contact was received 10 minutes later at 23:31 UTC at 5,475 feet.
The plane lost contact with air traffic control 13 minutes into the flight, and crashed into the sea.
The plane was packed with 188 passengers and crew, a transport ministry official said at a press conference. 178 adults, one infant and two babies were on board. The crew included two pilots and five flight attendants.
“The plane crashed into water about 30m to 40m deep,” Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Yusuf Latif told AFP news agency. “We’re still searching for the remains of the plane.”
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 (reg. PK-LQP) was 3 month old. It performed its first flight in July 30th 2018.