Two foreigners were among the crew and passengers on board Lion Air flight JT610, which went missing on Monday morning en route from Jakarta to Pangkalpinang in Bangka Belitung Islands province, a Lion Air executive has said.
"There were two foreign nationals [aboard the flight], one Indian citizen and one Italian citizen," Lion Air Group managing director Daniel Putut told a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.
The Indian man was the aircraft's captain, identified as Bhavye Suneja, while the Italian citizen was among the 181 passengers, Daniel said without revealing further details about the latter's identity.
Suneja piloted the Lion Air flight with co-pilot Harvino. According to the airline operator, both were experienced in the field as they had over 6,000 and 5,000 flight hours, respectively.
Air traffic control (ATC) at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport lost contact with Lion Air flight JT610 on Monday at 6:33 a.m., approximately 13 minutes after takeoff. The pilot reportedly requested to return to base shortly before losing contact.
Authorities later reported that the flight crashed into the sea 7 nautical miles (12.96 kilometers) north off the coast of Tanjung Bungin in Karawang, West Java.
Search and rescue personnel, including from the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas), the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the police, have scrambled to locate the people aboard the flight.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took his time on the sidelines of Our Ocean Conference (OOC) in Bali to instruct the relevant authorities to speed up search and rescue efforts and locate the victims.
"I have ordered the National Transportation Safety Commission [KNKT] to investigate the accident and immediately report the result," Jokowi said.
Although no casualties have been reported officially, photos from Basarnas revealed that the search and rescue personnel have retrieved a number of dead bodies.
Among the 181 passengers, including three minors, were dozens of government officials from the Finance Ministry, the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), the Attorney General's Office (AGO) as well as the environment and energy ministries.
Separately, Bandung Search and Rescue Agency (SAR) spokesman Joshua Banjarnahor said that all the dead bodies and belongings that had been retrieved during the operations would be taken to Tanjung Priok Port, Jakarta.
"All retrieved [bodies] of victims will be taken to JICT [PT Jakarta International Container Terminal] in Tanjung Priok," Joshua said.
The families of victims also went to a search and rescue post established in Tanjungpakis village, Pakisjaya, Karawang regency, West Java, to look for updates on the search efforts.
Cita Purnamasari, 36, went from Karawang to Pakisjaya to seek information about her relative, Ariawan Komardy, who was aboard the flight.
"He was a civil servant in Pangkal Pinang," she said.