Officials say there are no survivors of the Indonesian carrier's flight from Jakarta that crashed in the Java Sea with 189 people on board.
Australia has ordered its officials not to fly on Lion Air after yesterday's disaster - and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested New Zealand will do the same.
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"I think it would make sense at least as a cautionary act at this point while we are waiting for detail for the cause of the of the crash," she told The AM Show on Tuesday.
Minutes after take-off on Monday, the plane struggled for altitude and speed before requesting to turn back to the airport. Then it suddenly dropped from 5000 feet.
Just a day before, on a flight from Bali, the plane experienced a similar drop. But Lion Air's chief executive insists it was fixed and safely released to fly.
The airline has such a poor safety record, the EU issued a 10-year ban that was only lifted two years ago. In 2013, a Lion Air plane crashed short of the runway in Bali and another incident in 2004 saw 25 people die.
Workers in the latest search and rescue operation now face a grim task, sifting through the wreckage floating in the ocean.
Scattered belongings and plane fragments are all that is left of the fatal flight. Indonesia's director of Search and Rescue says he predicts no one survived.
At port in Jakarta, nine body bags have been brought ashore where ambulances wait. But inside, the bodies are in parts - not whole.
The devastating impact of a rapid descent was so severe, it sounded like a storm when it hit.
"The noise was like an explosion. I was on the beach but it was dark, it was cloudy," says witness Dadang Hambali.
"I didn't think anything of it. I thought it was thunder, but it was different from thunder. It was loud - boom."
At a crisis centre in Jakarta, a screen carries names of those on board. Indonesia's President Joko Widodo promises the search will run 24/7.
But relatives now are coming to terms with the news their loved ones will never return.