UPDATES WITH US REACTION IN GRAFS 13-14
By Iqbal Musyaffa
JAKARTA (AA) – An Indonesian passenger plane with 188 people aboard lost contact with air traffic controllers and crashed into the sea off the country’s West Java province on Monday morning.
According to the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Lion Air JT 610 aircraft flying from Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang lost contact at 6.33 a.m. local time (2330GMT Sunday).
Indonesian Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi confirmed the report and said the crisis center would be opened at the Terminal 1 of the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng, West Java.
"I’m going to go there immediately, to find out the current status of the jet. I am concerned," Sumadi told reporters.
Basarnas will send helicopters from Atang Senjaya Airbase to search the crash site.
“Search and rescue efforts have mobilized 90 Basarnas personnel engaged in initial operations,” said Yusuf Latif, spokesman of the rescue agency.
Air Navigation Corporate Secretary Didiet KS Radityo confirmed, based on the controller's report in the Jakarta Air Traffic Services Center (JATSC), that the plane had indeed lost its contact.
The aircraft was carrying 188 passengers — including 178 adults, 1 child and 2 infants with 2 pilots and 5 flight attendants.
Lion Air is one of Indonesia's biggest airlines, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations.
Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement and expressed grief over the accident.
"We have received the news with great sorrow that the plane flying from Indonesian capital Jakarta to Pangkal Pinang has crashed with its 188 passengers and crew on board," the statement said.
"We wish the mercy of Allah be upon the victims of this tragic accident and we convey our condolences to their relatives and the brotherly people of Indonesia," the statement added.
The U.S. also expressed its "deepest condolences" following the tragedy as State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the Washington is preparing to assist Indonesian officials in their investigation.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Indonesia in this time of sorrow," Nauert said in a statement.
* Fatih Hafiz Mehmet in Ankara contributed to this news story