Delhi-based Indian pilot Suneja was flying the Indonesian Plane: Agency reports

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A sprawling and haphazardly planned megacity, Jakarta is known for having some of Southeast Asia's worst traffic congestion with lengthy tailbacks and hours-long delays a daily frustrating ritual for commuters.

The Indonesian plane that crashed in waters near Jakarta was plunging at hundreds of kilometres an hour in its final seconds, according to preliminary data transmitted by the plane that could aid investigators looking for a cause.

A Lion Air plane crashed shortly after taking off on Monday morning. But a top search official, citing the condition of the remains recovered, said no survivors are expected.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is the most recent model of Boeing's famous 737, the US company's best-selling plane, and is a popular choice among budget airlines around the world.

Indonesia relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has a poor aviation safety record and has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years. It plunged into the sea about 10 minutes later. It was a new model that had only been in use for two months.

Indonesian finance minister Sri Mulyani also arrived at the agency and met with its chief, seeking information about 20 ministry staff who were on the flight after attending an event in Jakarta. "But this time I arrived at Soekarno-Hatta at 06:20 because of the heavy traffic jam at Cikampek toll road", said Sony, recalling the mishap that turned out saving his life. The flight was scheduled to land in Pangkal Pinang airport in Bangka-Belitung province off Sumatra at 7.20.

Nurbana said they talked until falling asleep and Sumiati woke up early to take their son, a post office worker, to the airport.

"We are doing our best to find and save victims, and I continue to pray and hope that the victims can be found soon", he said.

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is the most recent model of Boeing's famous 737, the United States company's best-selling plane, and is a popular choice among budget airlines around the world.

More than 300 people including soldiers, police and fishermen are involved in the grim search, retrieving aircraft debris and personal items such as a crumpled cellphone, ID cards, bags and photos from the seas northeast of Jakarta.

Muhammad Syaugi agency head said: "We don't know yet whether there are any survivors".

KNKT head Soerjanto said his office would send one more ship that would carry the more advanced equipment for the underwater search from Singapore.

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The jet, on a 1-hour flight, was carrying 181 passengers, including one child and two babies, and eight crew members.

However, six other Lion Air jets, including one that crash-landed in the water short of the runway at the Indonesian resort island of Bali in 2013, were damaged beyond fix in various accidents, according to Aviation Safety Network.

"His father is stunned and not in a condition to talk or do anything". Boeing has said their company stands ready to provide as much technical assistance as they can to investigate the accident.

The search and rescue agency said the flight ended in waters off West Java that are 30 to 35 meters (98 to 115 feet) deep.

His wife, Lutfinani Eka Putri, 23, said that her husband messaged her from the aircraft at 6:12 a.m., sending her a photo from the plane, and at 6:15 a.m. he stopped replying to her messages.

It descended more than 500 feet (152 m) and veered to the left before climbing again to 5,000 feet (1,524 m), where it stayed during most of the rest of the flight.

Rescue personnel preparing to dive at the crash site.

A lot of attention has focused on the fact the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, was brand new.

The accident is the first to be reported that involves the widely-sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet. The Max 8 replaced the similar 800 in the Chicago-based plane maker's product line.

A plane passenger is lucky to be alive after traffic made him late for the doomed Lion Air flight that crashed in to the sea off Indonesia.

Edward Sirait said that this problem had been "resolved according to procedure".

"I don't know what would make a plane this new crash", Mr Ostrower told the BBC.