An Indonesian airplane operated by budget airline Lion air crashed shortly after takeoff at Jakarta's Soekarno airport on Monday, authorities confirmed. The aircraft reportedly crashed just 13 minutes after takeoff, likely into the Java Sea. According to the national Transport Ministry, there were 188 people on board.
"The aircraft was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, with two pilots and five flight attendants," said Sindu Rahayu, head of civil aviation at the Transport Ministry.
Rescue officials said that contact with the plane was lost over Karawang, in West Java province, not far from the capital.
"At the moment personnel from Karawang water police unit are heading to the coordinates to check whether the information we received was accurate," said local police chief Slamet Waluyo.
Shortly thereafter, rescue officials said that debris had been found that could have come from the plane.
"We have found life vests, mobile phones and pieces of the aircraft," said Muhammad Syaugii of Indonesia's search and rescue service, said on Monday.
Lion Air said that the aircraft was a passenger plane en route to a domestic location. According to Indonesian newspaper Kompas, the flight was traveling to Pangkal-Pinang on Bangka Island, east of Sumatra.
Swedish flight tracking service Flightradar24 reported that the airplane was a Boeing 737 that had been delivered to Lion Air in August. They also wrote on Twitter that "preliminary data show an increase in speed and decrease in altitude at last transmission."
Air transport is crucial for connecting the country's tens of thousands of islands, but Indonesia has seen a number of airplane crashes in the past few years, including a Lion Air crash near Bali in 2013.
In 2017, Indonesia's air traffic controllers association announced that the rate of take-off and landings in Jakarta permitted by state-run air navigation company AirNav was larger than the airport's capacity, thus increasing the likelihoood of accidents.
Lion Air told reporters it was still trying to gather all the relevant data and would hold a press conference later on Monday.