Saturday, March 8, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Carrying 239 People Goes Missing


The fate of a Malaysia Airlines  flight carrying 239 people remains unclear after a senior Vietnamese navy official said the country's armed forces still have no information on the fate of the airliner, which went missing early Saturday.


Vietnamese state-run media earlier reported, citing the country's navy, that flight MH370 Kuala Lumpur to Beijing crashed into the sea about 153 nautical miles (283 kilometers) off Vietnam's coast.

But the Vietnamese commander for the region, Navy Adm. Ngo Van Phat, said the location provided by state media was in fact the area where Malaysian authorities lost contact with the plane, and the precise location of the jet—and what happened to it—remain unknown. "We are standing by now, waiting for orders from our leaders to launch search and rescue operations," Adm. Phat told The Wall Street Journal. "We have been notified by Malaysian rescue authorities that the area is about 153 miles from Vietnam's Tho Chu island. That area will be accessed faster from Malaysia or Thailand."
Malaysian officials also say they have no information on the missing plane's location.
The plane departed from Kuala Lumpur 12:41 a.m. local time with 227 passengers and 12 crew members and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., Malaysia Airlines said in a statement.
 
Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference that the airline lost contact with the aircraft between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace and that there were no reports of bad weather along the route. Mr. Ahmad said the missing plane didn't send a distress signal and had enough fuel to fly an extra two hours. Family members of passengers on board MH370 eagerly await news of what happened to the Boeing 777-200ER enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. The WSJ's Wayne Ma tells us many of the passengers didn't find out the aircraft was missing until they went to the airport to pick up loved ones.
 
He said the missing flight's passengers include 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians and 12 Indonesians. Passengers from Australia, the U.S., France, Ukraine and Canada are also on board. Asked about the fate of the aircraft and passengers, Mr. Ahmad said: "I don't want to speculate as search and rescue is still ongoing."
The flight normally takes six hours, beginning over water before crossing Vietnam into southern China.
 
Lai Xuan Thanh, chief of Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, told The Wall Street Journal that he feared the plane may have crashed in Vietnamese airspace. "We still need to confirm everything. [There were] no reports of bad weather in the region at the time of the signal loss. We are ready to deploy search-and-rescue operations."

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