A Sriwijaya Air Boeing 737-500, carrying 62 people is believed to have crashed into the sea about four minutes after the plane took off from Jakarta on Saturday.
According to live air traffic site flightradar24.com, the plane dropped more than 10,000ft in less than 30 seconds.
This accident is the latest among the series of air accidents to rock Indonesia.
This Southeast Asian archipelago relies heavily on air transport to connect its thousands of islands but has suffered a string of deadly plane crashes in recent years, reports The Jakarta Post.
The aviation sector is expanding fast as its economy booms but there are concerns airlines are struggling to find enough well-trained personnel to keep up with the rapid growth.
Once banned from European airspace over safety fears, the EU removed all Indonesian airlines from its safety blacklist in 2018 following improvements.
Here are the worst aviation disasters in the nation's history:
The worst disaster in Indonesia's aviation history left 234 dead in 1997. An Airbus A-300B4 operated by national carrier Garuda Indonesia crashed in a smog-shrouded ravine in North Sumatra, just short of Medan's airport.
A Boeing 737 MAX 8 from budget airline Lion Air crashes off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 passengers and crew members. Investigators cite problems with the plane's anti-stall system as one of the contributing factors.
In 2014, an AirAsia plane plunged into the Java Sea during stormy weather, killing 162 people. The plane was flying from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore.
A Mandala Airlines domestic flight crashed shortly after take-off in 2005 into a densely populated suburb in Medan, a city of two million on the island of Sumatra, killing at least 150 including passengers, crew and people on the ground.
In June 2015 an Indonesian military plane crashed shortly after takeoff, also coming down in a residential area in Medan, killing around 122 people on board, many of them servicemen and women and their families. Around 20 people were also killed on the ground and several housing blocks torn apart.
Air Force fire
In 1991, an Air Force plane crashed in East Jakarta minutes after take off when an engine caught fire, killing 135 people according to reports. Those who died included 121 airmen, 12 crew and two people on the ground. One passenger survived.
In 1997, a Silk Air flight crashed into a river near the Indonesian city of Palembang while on its way to Singapore from Jakarta. All 104 passengers and crew were killed in what was investigated as a possible pilot murder-suicide.
New Year's Day crash
An Adam Air plane plunged into the sea off Sulawesi island on New Year's Day 2007, killing all 102 people on board. The airline was later banned from flying. Indonesian authorities said the pilots lost control after becoming preoccupied with malfunctioning navigational equipment.