Sriwijaya Air flight SJY 182 from Jakarta to Pontianak lost contact at 2:40 p.m. Western Indonesian Time (2:40 a.m. ET) on Saturday.
The missing Indonesia plane was carrying 50 passengers — 43 adults and 7 children — as well as 12 crew members, Indonesia’s Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi said during a press conference.
Indonesia’s search and rescue agency, Basarnas, is now conducting a search operation, he added.
A high-ranking Basarnas officer said at a press conference that their officers on the ground are finding debris around Lancang Island — located in chain of islands to the north of Jakarta’s coast — where the plane lost contact.
The debris will be passed to the National Transportation Safety Committee to be investigated, he said, adding that is not confirmed if that debris belongs to the missing plane.
Flight SJY 182 lost contact 11 nautical miles north of Jakarta’s Soekarno–Hatta International Airport at an altitude of 11,000 feet while climbing to 13,000 feet, Antara reported.
The plane dropped 10,000 feet in less than a minute before disappearing from the radar, according to the global flight tracking service Flightradar24. The drop happened about four minutes after takeoff, it said.
In a statement, Sriwijaya Air said that they were “in contact with various related parties to get more detailed information” regarding the incident and that they will “immediately issue an official statement” when more information was clear.
The Transport Ministry said it is investigating and coordinating with Basarnas and the National Committee for Transport Safety.
The plane, registered PK CLC, is a Boeing 737-500. The aircraft is 26 years old, according to Flightradar24.
A Boeing spokesperson told CNN in a statement that they are “aware of media reports from Jakarta, and are closely monitoring the situation.”
“We are working to gather more information,” they said.
Sriwijaya Air, a low-cost airline and Indonesia’s third largest carrier, transports more than 950,000 passengers per month from its Jakarta hub to 53 destinations within Indonesia and three regional countries, according to the company’s website.
In June 2018, it was removed from the European Union’s list of banned air carriers, 11 years after it was placed on that list.
Indonesia has a poor air safety record, and aviation incidents are not uncommon.
Indonesia’s population of 270 million people rely heavily on air transport to commute between islands across the archipelago, which stretches over more than 3,000 miles, around the same distance between London and New York.
This is a developing story…more to come
Jamaluddin Masrur reported from Jakarta. CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.