Lion Air passenger jet crashes into the sea off the coast of Indonesia

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An aircraft operated by the Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air has crashed while on a domestic flight from Jakarta, the country’s rescue agency confirms

“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 Indonesian capital Jakarta to the city of Pangkal Pinang on Sumatra, a flight slightly longer than an hour.

Latif said that the jet lost contact with air traffic control some 13 minutes into the flight, and crashed into the sea.

Flight tracking service Flightradar24 says preliminary flight data shows a drop in the plane’s altitude and increase in speed before the transmission was cut.

The plane appears to have plunged into the sea just off the coast of Indonesia, the data provided by the service shows. It was reportedly at an altitude of 3,650 feet (about 1,112m) when the signal was lost.

A search and rescue has been launched.

There have been witnesses to the crash. The rescues say that sailors on a tug boat that was on its way out of port saw the plane falling.

“At 7:15 a.m. the tugboat reported it had approached the site and the crew saw the debris of a plane,” a vessel traffic officer in the area told the Jakarta Post. The crew first reported the crash to the maritime authority at 6.45 a.m. local time.

Two other vessels, a cargo ship and an oil tanker are headed to the site of the incident along with a rescue boat, the official confirmed.

Lion Air has made no official statement so far.

Flight JT610 is operated by a Boeing-737 Max 8, capable of seating up to 210 passengers.

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