Malaysia Airlines plane crashes in South China Sea with 239 people aboard

Tuoi Tre, a leading daily in Vietnam, reports that the Vietnamese Navy has confirmed the plane crashed into the ocean. According to Navy Admiral Ngo Van Phat, Commander of the Region 5, military radar recorded that the plane crashed into the sea at a location 153 miles South of Phu Quoc island.

M-AIR-640A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the airline said in a statement.

The airline said in a statement that flight MH370 disappeared at 02:40 local time on Saturday (18:40 GMT on Friday). It was expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 (22:30 GMT).

“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the carrier said.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew.”

The Boeing B777-200 aircraft was carrying 227 passengers, including two children, and 12 crew members. The passengers are of 13 nationalities, the airline said.

“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing,” said the airline.

The airline said in a statement that its representatives were contacting the relatives of those aboard. “Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” it said.

The flight went missing two hours after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.

In a brief press conference on Saturday, Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the company was still working to establish the location of the plane.

He said the company was “deeply saddened” at the situation and that it would provide regular updates.

China’s Xinhua state news agency said that Chinese aviation authorities had confirmed that 160 Chinese nationals were aboard the plane, which was lost from radar in airspace controlled by Vietnam.

Chinese state TV also reported there had not been any reports received yet about any aircraft crashed in Chinese waters.

The aircraft did not enter airspace controlled by China and did not make contact with Chinese controllers, the agency added.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members,” said its statement.

Meanwhile, China has sent two ships to the South China Sea to help in any rescue, Chinese state television said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is reported to have told government departments to “start the emergency procedures, strengthen communication with Malaysian Civil Aviation authorities, prepare search and rescue efforts”,

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.

Last summer, an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash landed in San Francisco, killing three passengers.

“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Boeing said in a tweet. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”

The airline is the national carrier of Malaysia and one of Asia’s largest, flying nearly 37,000 passengers daily to some 80 destinations worldwide. It has 15 of the Boeing 777-200 planes in its fleet.

Part of the company is in the private sector, but the government owns most of it.

The airline’s roots date back to 1937, when it operated passenger and cargo flights in Malaysia.

In April 1942, it was incorporated as Malaysia Airways Limited; it later became Malaysia Airlines.

The airline has its headquarters and registered office at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Malaysia, and its main airline hub is at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to its website.

Passengers List

Altogether, 239 passengers & crew, from 14 different nationalities, including two infants.

Passengers were from:
1. China – 152 plus 1 infant

2. Malaysia – 38

3. Indonesia – 12

4. Australia – 7

5. France – 3

6. United States of America – 3 pax plus 1 infant

7. New Zealand – 2

8. Ukraine – 2

9. Canada – 2

10. Russia – 1

11. Italy – 1

12. Taiwan – 1

13. Netherlands – 1

14. Austria – 1

The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53. He has a total flying hours of 18,365 hours.

He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, a Malaysian, is aged 27. He has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.

Source: BBC, Reuters, CNN