Crashed Lion Air jet 'found'

The Lion Air passenger jet disappeared shortly after takeoff from Jakarta

Drones and sonar technology have been deployed in Indonesia to search for a Lion Air passenger plane which crashed into the sea on Monday.

The cause of the crash is still unknown, but investigators hope the black boxes that record the cockpit voices and flight information will help determine the reason, according to Reuters.

Lion Air, Indonesia's biggest budget airline which has been engaged in huge expansion, announced earlier this year it was buying 50 Boeing-737 MAX 10 jets for US$6.24 billion.

A diver, identified only as Hendra, told local media the recording device was found in mud on the sea floor among other debris from the crashed plane.

Flight JT610, which was flown by a brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8, crashed into coastal waters just 13 minutes after it took off from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport for a one-hour flight to Pangkal Pingang.

Data from the doomed flight shows the plane was struggling with erratic speed and altitude levels during the brief time it was in the sky.

The flight, which crashed into the water about 30 metres to 40 metres deep, had requested to return to base shortly before losing contact, said AirNav Indonesia spokesperson Yohanes Harry Sirait.

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"We are certain that not far from the site there is the fuselage of the plane".

The airline's uneven safety record, including another crash at sea with no deaths in 2013, led the USA and the European Union to ban the airline from their airspace.

But the desperate search for the recording devices has been roundly hampered by strong sea currents.

Flight 610 was bound for the Indonesian island of Bangka off southeastern Sumatra. At one point, the passenger who shot the video, Paul Ferdinand Ayorbaba, zooms in on his boarding pass. He is seen walking along a concourse, showing his Lion Air boarding pass on camera, and zooming in on a Lion Air aircraft while boarding, according to AP.

Syauqi said that if the main body of the aircraft was found, more victim bodies as well as the black box would also be located.

Indonesia's disaster agency posted photos online of a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.

Indonesian airlines were barred in 2007 were flying to Europe because of safety concerns, though several were allowed to resume services in the following decade. Lion Air only regained access to the European Union in 2016.

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