The first pictures have emerged of passengers on board a doomed jet that crashed into the sea off Indonesia, killing all 189 on board.

Lion Air's flight JT-610 was heading to Pangkal Pinang, an island north of the capital, Jakarta, when it lost contact with air control about 6.33am local time - just 13 minutes after take-off.

Shortly before the disaster, the plane's pilot, Indian national Bhavye Suneja, had reported "technical difficulties" and, minutes after take-off, asked to return to the airport, an official said. Traffic control allowed the return, but the aircraft then vanished from radar and plunged 5000ft into the sea.

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Bhavye Suneja was one of two pilots in the cockpit when the flight hit the water, Indonesian news outlets have reported.
Bhavye Suneja was one of two pilots in the cockpit when the flight hit the water, Indonesian news outlets have reported.

Authorities are not yet sure why the plane crashed - the weather was sunny, the aircraft was new and the pilots experienced. But Lion Air's president said the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which went into service just months ago, had gone in for repairs ahead of its final flight.

"It got repaired in Denpasar (in Bali) and then it was flown to Jakarta," Edward Sirait told AFP. "Engineers in Jakarta received notes and did another repair before it took off on Monday. That's the normal procedure for any plane."

Websites that display flight data showed the plane speeding up as it suddenly lost altitude in the minutes before it disappeared.

A police officer inspects debris recovered from the area where a Lion Air passenger jet crashed, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta. Photo / AP
A police officer inspects debris recovered from the area where a Lion Air passenger jet crashed, at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta. Photo / AP
Members of Indonesian Coast Guard remove the remains recovered from the area where the Lion Air passenger jet crashed. Photo / AP
Members of Indonesian Coast Guard remove the remains recovered from the area where the Lion Air passenger jet crashed. Photo / AP
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency a rescuer inspects debris believed to be from the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java. Photo / AP
In this photo released by Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency a rescuer inspects debris believed to be from the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off West Java. Photo / AP

Photos show debris, including what appeared to be an emergency slide, and personal belongings picked up from the water's surface by ships that reached the crash area in the Java Sea. Separate images show heart-broken relatives waiting for news at Jakarta's Soekarno Hatta International airport and at the terminal in Pangkal Pinang.

One of the passengers was 22-year-old Deryl Fida Febrianto, who was married just two weeks ago and was on his way to Pangkal Pinang to work on a cruise ship.

His wife, Lutfinani Eka Putri, 23, said that her husband messaged her from the aircraft at 6.12am, sending her a photo from the plane, and at 6.15am he stopped replying to her messages. They had grown up together, she told reporters, showing a picture of the smiling couple on their wedding day.

"When I saw the news, I matched the flight number with the ticket photo Deryl had sent," she said. "I immediately started crying."

Febrianto and wife Lutfinani Eka Putri, 23, married just two weeks ago. He was on his way to work on a cruise ship.
Febrianto and wife Lutfinani Eka Putri, 23, married just two weeks ago. He was on his way to work on a cruise ship.
Rescuers carry a body bag containing the remains recovered from the area where a Lion Air passenger jet crashed. Photo / AP
Rescuers carry a body bag containing the remains recovered from the area where a Lion Air passenger jet crashed. Photo / AP
A relative of a passenger of a Lion Air plane cries while waiting for update. Photo / AP
A relative of a passenger of a Lion Air plane cries while waiting for update. Photo / AP

Rescuers said today that all 189 passenger and crew were "likely" killed and that human remains had been found.

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"My prediction is that nobody survived because the victims that we found, their bodies were no longer intact and it's been hours so it is likely 189 people have died," agency operational director Bambang Suryo Aji told reporters.

Pilot Suneja, originally from New Delhi, had worked for Lion Air since March 2011 and had logged 11,000 flying hours.

After receiving friends and relatives who rushed to their New Delhi home upon hearing news of the crash, the parents of the pilot Suneja set off for the Indonesian capital.

"Please pray for us," Suneja's sobbing mother said as she got into a car. A family friend, Anil Gupta, said Suneja's father was stunned and couldn't talk, and his sister and mother had not come out of their rooms.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet.

Pictures and video shared online by the head of Indonesia's disaster relief agency show debris and oil floating on the water following the crash, of which there are, so far, no known survivors.

Father of Bhavye Suneja, one of the pilots of a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia reacts as he leaves for the airport in New Delhi, India. Photo / AP
Father of Bhavye Suneja, one of the pilots of a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia reacts as he leaves for the airport in New Delhi, India. Photo / AP
A man takes photo of the list of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia. Photo / AP
A man takes photo of the list of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Indonesia. Photo / AP

"It's correct that an RTB (return to base) was requested and had been approved but we're still trying to figure out the reason," Soerjanto Tjahjono, head of Indonesia's transport safety committee, told reporters, referring to the pilot's request.

"We hope the black box is not far from the main wreckage so it can be found soon," he said, referring to the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

Pope Francis conveyed his condolences to those affected with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, saying in a telegram to that the pontiff "offers the assurance of his prayers for all who have died and for those who mourn their loss".

Relatives were pictured crying at the Pangpal Pinang airport as they awaited news on their loved ones and family members were also pictured arriving at the agency's headquarters in Jakarta.

Feni, who uses a single name, said her soon-to-be-married sister was on the flight, planning to meet relatives in Pangkal Pinang, a jumping off point for beach-and-sun seeking tourists on nearby Belitung island.

"We are here to find any information about my younger sister, her fiance, her in-law to be and a friend of them," said Feni.

"We don't have any information," she said, as her father wiped tears from reddened eyes. "No one provided us with any information that we need. We're confused. We hope our family is still alive," she said.

On board were 178 adults, one child, two babies, two pilots and five flight attendants. There were also 20 staff from the Indonesian Ministry for Finance on board, and 23 government officials in total according to Reuters. An Italian national was also among those on board.

Data from the Flight Radar website showed the plane took off before it stopped transmitting north east of Jakarta.
Data from the Flight Radar website showed the plane took off before it stopped transmitting north east of Jakarta.
A wallet belonging to a victim of the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed is seen in the waters of Ujung Karawang, West Java, Indonesia. Photo / AP
A wallet belonging to a victim of the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed is seen in the waters of Ujung Karawang, West Java, Indonesia. Photo / AP

Sony Setiawan has revealed he is lucky to be alive after traffic jams made him late for the flight.

The air tracking service FlightRadar 24 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.

A tug boat leaving Jakarta's port saw the plane falling into the water, which is reported to be about 30-35m deep.

The jet was a Boeing 737 MAX 8. In a statement Boeing said it was "deeply saddened by the loss of Flight JT 610" and expressed sympathy for the loved ones of those on board.

A statement issued by Indonesia's search and rescue agency said the plane's Emergency Local Transmitter beacon did not emit a distress signal as it fell from the sky - despite it being tested and declared fully functional until August 2019.