UPDATE: Authorities say crashed plane sought return to base before losing contact

* Editor's note: This is a developing story. We will bring you updates as more information becomes available.

JAKARTA - An aircraft with 189 aboard that crashed into the sea off Indonesia's island of Java on Monday requested to return to base shortly before losing contact, said Yohanes Sirait, a spokesman for the country's air navigation authorities.

"The (traffic) control allowed that but then it lost contact," Sirait added.

The Lion Air aircraft, which lost contact 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, the capital, is believed to have sunk after crashing.

In a statement, Lion Air Group said the plane was airworthy. 

The plane was carrying 188 passengers and crew when it went missing shortly after take-off, a transport ministry official said.

"The aircraft was carrying 178 adult passengers, one child and two babies, with two pilots and five flight attendants," said Sindu Rahayu, directorate general of Civil Aviation at the transport ministry.

"The plane had requested to return to base before finally disappearing from the radar," he added in a statement.

Slamet Waluyo, police chief from Karawang district in Jakarta's east -- near the closest point to the suspected crash site -- said authorities had received reports from several sources that the plane had crashed into the sea.

The Flightradar website tracked the plane, showing it looping south on take-off and then heading north before the flight path ended abruptly over the Java Sea, not far from the coast.

- Additional reporting Reuters

Source
AFP