Friday, 7 March 2014

Malaysia Airlines loses contact with plane flying to Beijing


The aircraft never made it to Chinese airspace as John Sudworth reports from Beijing International Airport
Malaysia Airlines says it has lost contact with a plane travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 239 people on board.
The airline said in a statement that flight MH370 disappeared at 02:40 local time on Saturday (18:40 GMT on Friday).
It had been expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 (22:30 GMT).
The plane went off the radar south of Vietnam, according to a statement on the Vietnamese government website.
Its last known location was off the country's Ca Mau peninsular although the exact position was not clear, it said.

At the scene

For more than six hours after it was due in, the flight was listed as delayed, but MH370 has now been removed from the international arrivals board.
Friends and relatives expecting to meet passengers from the flight have been instructed to go to a nearby hotel where officials are on hand to provide support and, when it comes, information.
The flight was a code share with China Southern Airlines CZ748 and more than 150 of the 227 passengers on board are Chinese Nationals. State media are reporting that two rescue boats have been sent into the South China Sea, from the ports of Haikou and Nansha, to assist with the search and rescue effort.
The weather along the route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was reportedly good and Malaysia Airlines, and the plane, a Boeing 777, both have good safety records.
Malaysia Airlines said it was "currently working with the authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft".
"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.
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.
'Very worried'
The passengers were of 14 different nationalities, he added.
Among them were 152 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 people from Indonesia and six from Australia.
A woman, believed to be the relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, covers her face as she cries at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on 8 March 2014Relatives of passengers have faced an anxious wait at Beijing International Airport
Relatives of missing passengers at Kuala Lumpur airport (8 March 2014)Relatives of passengers also waited for news at the plane's departure airport in Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane prepares to take off at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in November 2012Malaysia Airlines is the national carrier of Malaysia and one of the largest in Asia
The pilot was Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981, Mr Yahya said.

Flight MH370 passengers

  • 153 Chinese including one child
  • 38 Malaysians
  • 12 Indonesians
  • 6 Australians
  • Four Americans including one child
  • Three French
  • Two each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada
  • One each from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands and Austria
The flight went missing two hours after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
The aircraft did not enter airspace controlled by China and did not make contact with Chinese controllers, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said.
A Vietnamese navy official told the BBC that the plane had gone missing within Malaysian maritime territory.
Officials have refused to confirm that the aircraft has crashed.
Meanwhile, China has sent two ships to the South China Sea to help in any rescue, Chinese state television said.
Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya: "Focus now is to work with the emergency response"
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", says the BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing.
The flight has now been removed from the international arrivals board at Beijing International Airport, our correspondent reports from the terminal. It had been listed as delayed for more than six hours after it was due.
Friends and relatives expecting to meet passengers from the flight have been instructed to go to a nearby hotel where officials are on hand to provide support, our correspondent adds.
The Associated Press reported a woman weeping on a shuttle bus who was heard to say on a mobile phone: "They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good."
BBC map showing Malaysia, Vietnam and China
"This news has made us all very worried," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Boeing 777 fact sheet

  • Twin-engine jet launched in June 1995
  • One of the world's most popular long-distance planes
  • Seats between 300 and 380 passengers
  • Has flown around five million flights
  • Often used for non-stop flights of 16 hours or more
  • In September 2001 a crew member died in a re-fuelling fire on a 777 at Denver International Airport
  • In 2013 three Chinese women died when the 777 Asiana Flight 214 crashed in San Francisco
"We hope every one of the passengers is safe. We are doing all we can to get more details."
Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines' vice-president of operations control, told CNN the plane had been flying at an altitude of 35,000ft (10,700m) and that the pilots had not reported any problems with the aircraft.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," Malaysia Airlines said.
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.
The route between Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has become more and more popular as Malaysia and China increase trade, says the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur.
The Boeing 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20-year history until an Asiana plane came down at San Francisco airport in July 2013. Three teenage girls from China died in that incident.
Boeing said in a statement posted on Twitter: "We're closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370. Our thoughts are with everyone on board."

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