The flight disappeared from the radar 13 minutes after takeoff..
Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho posted photos on Twitter of debris including a crushed smartphone, books, bags and parts of the aircraft fuselage that had been collected by search and rescue vessels that have converged on the area.
"Last night, we were chatting together about his wife who is now seven months' pregnant, his plans and his dreams with his own small family until we fell asleep", he said as his wife wept and clung to him.
"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 global relations and cooperation (Dirco).
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said authorities were focusing on the search and rescue, and he called for the country's prayers and support.
Wreckage had been found near where the plane lost contact with air traffic officials on the ground, said Muhmmad Syaugi, the head of the search and rescue agency. The Emergency Local Transmitter beacon on the plane did not emit a distress signal.More news: Rockets ready to destroy future to get Jimmy Butler right now
At a news conference, officials said the plane had been carrying 178 adults, one child and two babies, as well as two pilots and five cabin crew, BBC News reports.
He said that Lion Air has opened up crisis centres for family members of victims at the Soekarno-Hatta airport and at the Halim Perdanakusuma airport.
In 2013, Lion Air flight 904 crashed into the sea on landing at Bali's International Airport.
At least 189 people are believed to have been on board the Indonesian budget carrier's passenger plane when it crashed into the ocean.
The European Union barred Indonesian airlines from flying to Europe in 2007 over to safety concerns. The ban was completely lifted in June this year. That ban was lifted in June, as the USA lifted a decade-long ban in 2016.