Indonesia says Lion Air passenger flight crashes off Sumatra

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said on Monday a Lion Air passenger flight from Jakarta, the capital, to the city of Pangkal Pinang off the island of Sumatra, had crashed into the sea.

“It has been confirmed that it has crashed,” Yusuf Latif, a spokesman for the agency, said by text message, when asked about the fate of the Lion Air plane. It was not immediately clear how many were on board.

The plane lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff, the official said, adding that a tug boat leaving the capital’s port had seen the craft falling. The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, according to air tracking service Flightradar 24.

Flight JT610 took off around 6.20 a.m. and was due to have landed in the capital of the Bangka-Belitung tin mining hub at 7.20 a.m., the tracking service showed.

“We cannot give any comment at this moment,” said Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group. “We are trying to collect all the information and data.”

A news conference would be held later on Monday, he told Reuters.

The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer’s workhorse single-aisle jet. The first Boeing 737 MAX jets were introduced into service in 2017.

Lion Air’s Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the very first global delivery.

Reporting by Augustinus Beo Da Costa and Ciny Silviana; Additional reporting by Jamie Freed in SINGAPORE and Tim Hepher in HONG KONG; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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