In what comes as a distressing piece of development, flight officials lost all contact with a Sriwijaya Air passenger plane (Flight SJI182) shortly after it took off at 6:37 AM UTC from the airport at Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
The country's transport ministry has confirmed the development, adding that the aircraft was of the make Boeing 737-524, charting towards Pontianak, the provincial capital of West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, from Jakarta.
"A Sriwijaya (Air) plane from Jakarta to Pontianak (on Borneo island) with call sign SJY182 has lost contact," said ministry spokesman Adita Irawati.
"It last made contact at 2:40 pm (0740 GMT)," the ministry added.
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 ADS-B signal from Flight SJ182 was lost at 07:40:27 UTC time, it said. It had taken off from the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta.
"Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta," Flightradar24 informed in a tweet.
In subsequent tweets, Flightradar24 further added that Flight SJ182 was operated by a Boeing 737-500 "classic" with registration number PK-CLC (MSN 27323). The first flight for this aircraft was in May 1994 (26 years old).
In its latest update, 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.
Soekarno-Hatta Airport Branch Communications Manager Haerul Anwar reportedly said that the Sriwijaya Air plane had lost contact around Lancang Island — part of the Thousand Islands chain.
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".
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.
Local media also broadcast some unconfirmed images of small debris fished from the water, suggesting that the plane could have plummeted into the sea.
Officials are currently looking into the matter, along with rescue agencies, the South China Morning Post reported, citing sources in the Indonesian Transport Ministry.
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.