The Malaysian Airline plane that vanished from radar screens during a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 aboard remained missing Saturday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said.
Search operations midway between Malaysia and Vietnam’s southern coast were being intensified for the aircraft carrying 239 passengers and crew, and Vietnamese air force planes reported spotting two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam that could indicate a crash.
Relatives of the 154 Chinese nationals on the flight gathered at a hotel in Beijing to await news, CNN reports.
Flight MH370 departed from the Malaysian capital about 12:40 a.m. Saturday local time and was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., the airline said in statements today. A search is under way for the Boeing Co. 777-200 aircraft, the airline said. Passengers are from 13 countries, it said.
“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, chief executive officer of Malaysian Airline System. “Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew.”
China’s aviation authority said that the Malaysian flight hadn’t made contact, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the authority. The authority said that the flight-radar signal was lost with Ho Chi Minh City air control, Xinhua reported.
Faud Sharuji, vice-president of operations control for the airline, said that there was no idea where the aircraft was, CNN reported in an interview with the executive.
At least 158 passengers were Chinese, according to Xinhua.
“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement on its Twitter feed. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”
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