The operational director of the Indonesian search and rescue agency, Basarnas, predicts there will be no survivors after a Lion Air plane crashed into the sea and sank shortly after taking off.

We need to find the main wreckage,” Bambang Suryo told reporters. “I predict there are no survivors, based on body parts found so far.”

Indonesia’s transport ministry confirmed the Lion Air flight had been carrying 189 people, including crew members, Reuters reports.

Lion Air flight JT610 lost all contact with ground officials 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta‘s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at approximately 6:21am local time, Monday morning. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 had been en route to Pangkal Pinang and had been scheduled to land at 7:20am, local time.

Reuters report the plane crashed into the Java Sea after trying to circle back to the airport. The pilot, identified as Captain Bhavye Suneja, had requested to return to the airport approximately two to three minutes after taking off.

“It’s correct that an RTB was requested and had been approved but we’re still trying to figure out the reason,” Soerjanto Tjahjono, the head of Indonesia’s transport safety committee, said.

Rescue workers on scene have found debris – including passengers’ belongings – and parts of the aircraft on the surface of the sea about 15km off the coast.

This is Indonesia’s worst airline disaster since 2014 when an Air Asia flight crashed, killing all 162 people on board.

Source: Reuters
Image: Getty Images / NurPhoto