Members of Indonesian Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) stand near debris and personal belongings believed to be from Lion Air passenger jet that crashed off Java Island at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

PRETORIA - The South African government on Monday sent out a message of condolences to the government and people of Indonesia, following the crash of Lion Air flight JT 610 which was carrying 189 people.

"The South African government wishes the Indonesian government and people, particularly the affected families, strength during this time of grief," said Ndivhuwo Mabaya, spokesman for the national department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco). 

Mabaya said indications at this stage are that there were no South African citizens on the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which crashed minutes after leaving Indonesia's capital, Jakarta. 

"The South African embassy in Jakarta has obtained a passenger manifest for the said flight and, based on this passenger manifest, indications are that there were no South African nationals on board the Lion Air flight JT 610," he said.

Media reports indicate that debris, life vests and a cellphone have been discovered in the waters off the coast of Java, near where officials believe the plane crashed. 

Authorities have not yet ascertained what caused the Lion Air flight JT 610 to crash about 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta on Monday.

The Boeing 737 is owned by the low-cost airline, Lion Air.

Government said bilateral relations between Pretoria and Jakarta are "strong and cordial". 

"A solid bilateral institutional framework between the two countries has been established through the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the Joint Trade Committee (JTC) and a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding regarding a wide range of areas of cooperation, including but not limited to the following: defence and security, agriculture, culture and science and technology," said Mabaya.

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African News Agency (ANA)