Bangkok: Indonesia’s Transportation Ministry said on Saturday that it had lost contact with a passenger jet after it took off from the capital, Jakarta, and flew over the Java Sea.

The plane took off from Soekarno-Hatta Airport and was on an estimated 90-minute flight from Jakarta to Pontianak, the capital of West Kalimantan province on Indonesia’s Borneo island.

The ministry said that the last contact with the plane, Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, was made at 2:40 pm local time. The Boeing 737-524 was bound for the city of Pontianak on the island of Borneo. It had 56 passengers on board, along with two pilots and four cabin crew, MetroTV reported.

Four minutes after taking off amid heavy rain, the 26-year-old plane lost more than 10,000 feet of altitude in less than 60 seconds, according to Flightradar24, the flight-tracking service.

The aviation sector in Indonesia, a developing country of thousands of islands, has long been plagued by trouble, contending with poor safety records and the rapid growth of budget airlines.

The authorities have started search and rescue operations for the missing plane with the National Search and Rescue Agency and the National Transportation Safety Committee, according to ministry spokesman. The government has sent a search vessel from Jakarta to the plane's last known location in the Java Sea. First responders were also deployed to the site to aid potential survivors, local TV reported.

Sriwijaya Air said in a statement it is still gathering more detailed information regarding the flight. The airlines said it would release an official statement later.

"Sriwijaya Air flight #SJ182 lost more than 10.000 feet of altitude in less than one minute, about 4 minutes after departure from Jakarta," Flightradar24 reported.

"ADS-B signal from flight #SJ182 was lost at 07:40:27 UTC time. The flight was en route from Jakarta to Pontianak in Indonesia," Flightradar24 said.

The 737 first flew in May 1994, according to Flightradar. It’s a much older model than the 737 Max model that was grounded for 20 months after two crashes, including a Lion Air disaster that killed 189 people in 2018.

(With inputs from agencies)