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A Lion Air flight with 188 passengers and crew on board crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia's disaster agency said.

Indonesia's Search And Rescue Agency has released an official statement which says the reason for the crash is still unclear.

Indonesian officials quoted by Channel News Asia said Lion Air had taken delivery of the brand new Boeing 737-800 MAX, described as "an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse singe-aisle jet" on August 13 of this year.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft was carrying 189 people on board, including 3 children and 8 crew members.

The Lion Air Boeing 737, which has a seating capacity of 210, lost radio contact 13 minutes into a flight to Pangkal Pinang, an island east of Sumatra.

Widodo, speaking in Bali where he was attending a conference, said he feels the anxiety of families and hopes they can remain calm while rescuers are working hard at the crash location at sea northeast of Jakarta.

The country's carriers have in the past faced years-long bans from entering European Union and U.S. airspace over their safety records.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said authorities were focusing on the search and rescue, and he called for the country's prayers and support.

"Last night, we were chatting together about his wife who is now seven months' pregnant, his plans and his dreams with his own small family until we fell asleep", he said as his wife wept and clung to him.

Searchers show IDs and photos found in the water after the Lion Air JT 610 plane crashed.

He added that the location of the crash site is about two nautical miles from where it lost contact with air traffic control and that the aircraft is likely to have sunk to a depth of about 30 to 35 metres underwater.

Lion Air is a budget carrier and has been involved in a number of incidents.

Lion Air's Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, received the very first global delivery. "We are also confused about the why, since it was a new plane". "There was a report of a technical issue which had been resolved according to procedure", Edward Sirait said, declining to specify the nature of the technical issue.

Earlier this morning, the world was shocked when news of a Lion Air plane flying domestically in Indonesia tragically crashed in the sea near West Java.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 from flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade.

He joined Jakarta based low-priced airline Lion Air in March 2011.