Flight officials on Saturday (January 9) lost all contact with a Sriwijaya Air passenger plane (Flight SJI182) shortly after it took off at 6:37 AM UTC from the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. A search-and-rescue operation was immediately launched by the authorities, which has now yielded suspected debris in waters north of the city.
News agency Reuters reported, citing sources in the Basarnas search and rescue agency, that the rescue officials detected the debris while looking for the Indonesian passenger plane that went off the radar.
However, it has not yet been confirmed if the debris came from the Sriwijaya Air Flight SJI182, Agus Haryano told Reuters.
Sam Sweeney, a journalist at ABC News who covers the Transportation beat for the portal, also reported that the flight had crashed off the coast of Jakarta.
"Breaking: An Indonesian Boeing 737-500 crashed off the coast Jakarta. The 26 year old plane, Sriwijaya Air flight was carrying 56 passengers and 6 crew. The plane dropped about 10,000 feet in 1 minute and disappeared from radar," Sweeney posted from his Twitter handle.
"This plane first flew for Continental Airlines in 1994 and then was transferred to United Airlines, before being sold to Sriwijaya Air in 2012," he added.
Earlier, local media had also broadcast some unconfirmed images of small debris fished from the water, suggesting that the plane could have plummeted into the sea.
A plane flying from Jakarta to Pontianak would spend most of the flight over the Java Sea. There was still no sign of the missing plane as night fell.
There has not yet been any official confirmation of a crash, although Indonesian newspaper Merdeka reported, citing sources, that the Regent of the Thousand Islands had notified that "something fell and exploded on Male Island".
Officials have said that that the flight was carrying 62 people onboard, which included 56 passengers and six crew members. Among the passengers were five children and an infant.
According to Flightradar24, a global flight tracking service, Flight SJ182 rapidly lost altitude and went off the radar after its flight path ended off the coast just north of Jakarta, in the Indonesian archipelago.
The flight trackers informed that their officials are downloading and processing granular ADS-B data for Flight SJ182.
"We will publish the data in the next hours," they said.
The jet is said to be two generations older than the contentious Boeing 737 MAX, which has had two major crashes in recent years.
Indonesia, the world’s largest archipelago nation, with more than 260 million people, has been plagued by transportation accidents on land, sea and air because of overcrowding on ferries, aging infrastructure and poorly enforced safety standards.