Flight carrying 188 crashes off Sumatra

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A Boeing 737 carrying 188 people has crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta’s international airport.

Indonesian searchers have found debris from the Lion Air aircraft, the head of Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency said.

“We have found life vests, mobile phones and pieces of the aircraft,” Muhammad Syaugii said.

“We don’t know yet whether there are any survivors,” Syaugi told a news conference. “We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm.”

The plane was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and seven crew members, according to Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho

The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff on Monday morning, said Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for Indonesia’s search and rescue agency.

A tug boat leaving the capital’s port had seen the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft falling.

Flight JT610 took off around 6.20 am, headed to the city of Pangkal Pinang off the island of Sumatra.

It had been scheduled to land at 7.20am.

Preliminary flight tracking data from Flightradar24 shows the aircraft climbed to around 5,000 feet (1,524 m) before losing, and then regaining, height, before finally falling towards the sea.

It was last recorded at 3,650 feet (1,113 m) and its speed had risen to 345 knots, according to raw data captured by the respected tracking website.

Its last recorded position was about 15 km north of the Indonesian coastline, according to a Google Maps reference of the last coordinates reported by Flightradar24.

Budget carrier Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest and biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.

In 2013, one of its Boeing 737-800 jets missed the runway while landing on the resort island of Bali, crashing into the sea without causing any fatalities among the 108 people on board.

The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 MAX.

-AP/Reuters/dpa

2018-10-29 03:33:45

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