Malaysian Plane Missing With 239 Passengers



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A possible relative of a passenger on board the aircraft cries in Beijing

A Malaysia Airlines
flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing
went missing over the South China Sea on Saturday, prompting China to
send ships to scour the water for possible wreckage.

The airline,
speaking several hours after the plane had been due to land in the
Chinese capital, said it was still too early to say whether the aircraft
had crashed. It said there had been no distress signal and it cited
early speculation that the plane may have landed in Nanming in southern
China.


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As news of the disappearance filtered through to distraught
friends and relatives who had been waiting for the flight to arrive in
Beijing, Malaysia Airlines said it was still investigating and took no questions at a brief news conference.

Flight
MH370, operating a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, last had contact with air
traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the
Malaysian town of Kota Bharu, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement read to the news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia and Vietnam were conducting a joint search and rescue, he
said but gave no details. China has also sent two maritime rescue ships
to the South China Sea to help in any rescue, state television said on
one of its microblogs.


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“We are extremely worried,” Chinese Foreign
Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “The news is very
disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe.”
The flight
left Kuala Lumpur at 12.21 a.m. (11.21 a.m. ET Friday) but no trace had
been found of the plane hours after it was due to land in the Chinese
capital at 6.30 a.m. (5.30 p.m. ET Friday) the same day.
“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370,” Jauhari said.

Ahmad Jauhari yahya, CEO Malaysian Airlines addresses the media in Kuala Lumpur, Saturday morning
Ahmad Jauhari yahya, CEO Malaysian Airlines addresses the media in Kuala Lumpur, Saturday morning

Malaysia Airlines
said people from 14 nationalities were among the 227 passengers,
including at least 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, six
Australians and three Americans. It also said a Chinese infant and an
American infant were on board.

If the plane is found to have
crashed, the loss would mark the second fatal accident involving a
Boeing 777 in less than a year, after an unblemished safety record since
the jet entered service in 1995.

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER crash-landed in San Francisco in July 2013, killing three passengers and injuring more than 180.
Boeing
said it was aware of reports that the Malaysia Airlines plane was
missing and was monitoring the situation but had no further comment. The
flight was operating as a China Southern Airlines codeshare.

FAILED TO CHECK IN

An
official at the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said the
plane had failed to check in as scheduled at 1721 GMT while it was
flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh city.
The
Boeing 777-200ER has a range of 14,305 km (7,725 miles). While the fate
of flight MH370 remains unclear, flight tracking website flightaware.com
showed that it flew northeast over Malaysia after takeoff and climbed
to an altitude of 35,000 feet.

The flight vanished from the website’s tracking records a minute later while it was still climbing.
If
it has crashed, the United States could have a role in any
investigation because the plane was built there, said Kelly Nantel, a
spokeswoman for the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
“We won’t know who would lead the investigation until the location is identified,” she said.


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