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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

World

Malaysia Airlines plane lost over South China Sea
Agencies
Kuala Lumpur, March 08, 2014
First Published: 07:15 IST(8/3/2014)
Last Updated: 17:04 IST(8/3/2014)
This picture taken on March 8, 2014 shows military personnel scanning the sea aboard a Vietnamese Air Force aircraft taking part in a search mission for a missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft, somewhere between Malaysia's east coast and southern Vietnam. (AFP Photo)

China has dispatched two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in rescue work for a missing aircraft, state television reported on Saturday on one of its official microblogs.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later.

Read: Vietnam mounts search for Malaysian airliner carrying 239

Read: China sends two ships to help in rescue work for missing plane


The plane lost communication two hours into the flight in Vietnam's airspace at 1:20 a.m. (18:20 GMT Friday), China's state news agency said. The radar signal also was lost, Xinhua reported.

Read: Vietnam detects signals from missing plane

Read: China sends two ships to help in rescue work for missing plane


Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines' vice president of operations control, told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,670 meters) and that the pilots reported no problem with the aircraft. He said that the aircraft's last communication was over the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (16:41 GMT Friday) and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday (22:30 GMT Friday), Malaysia Airlines said.

The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. Passengers were from at least 12 countries, including 152 from China, seven Australians and four Americans.

The airline said it was working with authorities who activated their search and rescue teams to locate the aircraft. The route would take the aircraft from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China.

A file photo of Malaysia Airline's ground staff parking a Boeing 777-200 at Kuala Lumpur International airport. (AFP photo)

"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," he added.

All countries in the possible flight path of the missing aircraft were performing a "communications and radio search", said John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines civil aviation agency.

At Beijing's airport, Zhai Le was waiting for her friends, a couple, who were on their way back to the Chinese capital on the flight. She said she was very concerned because she hadn't been able to reach them.

A man takes pictures of a flight information board displaying the scheduled time of arrival of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (top, in red) at the Beijing Airport. (Reuters photo)

Airport authorites posted a written notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather to a hotel about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service.

Another woman wept aboard the shuttle bus while talking by mobile phone, " They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good!"

Malaysia Airlines last fatal incident was in 1995, when one its planes crashed near the Malaysian city of Tawau, killing 34 people.

Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The state-owned carrier last month reported its fourth straight quarterly loss.

The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20 year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013. All 16 crew members survived, but thee of the 291 passengers, all teenage girls from China, were killed.

(With inputs from Reuters and AP)

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