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Missing Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 239 triggers Southeast Asia search

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Missing airliner carrying 239 triggers Southeast Asia search
by Thang Long LE

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file photo: Boeing 777-200

HANOI, March 8, 2014 (AFP) - Malaysia and Vietnam on Saturday led a search for a Malaysia Airlines jet that has gone missing over Southeast Asia, as fears mounted over the fate of the 239 people aboard.

Vietnam authorities said contact with Flight MH370 was lost near its airspace, but its exact location and what happened to it remained a mystery 12 hours after it slipped off air-traffic control screens.

Malaysia Airlines said the plane, on an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, relayed no distress signal, indications of rough weather, or other signs of trouble.

"The plane lost contact near Ca Mau province airspace as it was preparing to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control," a statement on the official Vietnamese government website said.

Its signal never appeared to Ho Chi Minh City controllers, it said. Ca Mau province is in southernmost Vietnam, next to the Cambodian border.

Vietnam's defence ministry has launched a search for the plane, the statement added.

Malaysian authorities also dispatched a plane, two helicopters and four vessels to search seas off its east coast in the South China Sea, said Faridah Shuib, a spokeswoman for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

The Philippines said it was sending three navy patrol boats and a surveillance plane to help efforts.

- Contact lost two hours after take-off -

Contact was lost at 2:40 am Malaysian time (1840 GMT Friday), about two hours after take-off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the carrier's CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said.

"Our focus now is to work with emergency responders and authorities, and mobilise full support," he told a press conference in Malaysia.

"And our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew, and their family members."

Screens at Beijing's airport indicated at first that the flight was "delayed", but later updated its status to "cancelled".

Whatever happened to the flight, Indonesia-based independent aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman said the clock was ticking on a "24-hour golden window" for search and rescue efforts.

"You can't assume that there are no survivors, and if there are any, it is absolutely crucial that they are picked up within a day, or the chances of survival drops significantly," he said.

The Boeing 777-200 carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members, from 14 nationalities Ahmad Jauhari said.

They included 153 Chinese nationals including an infant, 38 Malaysians, and 12 Indonesians, he said.

Six Australians also were aboard, along with three French nationals, and four Americans including an infant.

Malaysia Airlines has a good safety record. Its worst-ever crash occurred in 1977, when 93 passengers and seven crew perished in a hijacking and subsequent crash in southern Malaysia.

The pilot of the missing flight MH370 is Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who has flown for the airline since 1981, the carrier said. Its first officer Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, joined the airline in 2007. The plane is more than 11 years old.

The flight path of the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route passes over the South China Sea and the Indochinese peninsula before entering southern Chinese airspace.

"This news has made us all very worried," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing.

"We hope every one of the passengers is safe. We are doing all we can to get more details."

Chinese and Thai authorities have said the plane did not enter their airspace.

- Distraught relatives -

The information vacuum regarding the flight touched off a frenzy on social media, which saw an outpouring of concern for passengers.

At Beijing airport where authorities have gathered the passengers' families at a nearby hotel, an AFP journalist saw one woman enter the arrivals zone and break down in tears. She was led away by police.

At Kuala Lumpur International Airport, family members looking sombre and distraught trickled in to a designated waiting area for loved ones, escorted by authorities.

"They gave us no information so far," complained one man, who said his niece and her husband were on the flight for a one-week holiday in China. Reporters were barred from entering the area.

The Boeing 777 also has a solid safety record, with only a handful of incidents since its introduction in the mid-1990s.

In July 2013, three people died when a Boeing 777-200 operated by South Korea's Asiana Airlines skidded off the runway upon landing at San Francisco's international airport after it clipped a seawall before touching down.

"We're closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370. Our thoughts are with everyone on board," US-based Boeing said in a statement on its Twitter feed.

An accident would be a huge blow for the carrier, which has bled money for years as its struggles to fend off competition from rivals such as fast-growing AirAsia.

The flag carrier recorded its fourth straight quarterly loss during the final three months of 2013, and warned of a "challenging" year ahead due to intense competition.

It admitted in 2012 it was in "crisis", forcing it to implement a cost-cutting campaign centred on slashing routes and other measures.

Analysts have said poor management, government interference, and union resistance to reform of the 66-year-old airline have hampered its ability to respond to intensifying competition in the industry.

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2014-03-08

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No Thai passengers onboard missing Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight MH370: Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman /MCOT

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MISSING MAS FLIGHT:

M'sia, Vietnam and China work to locate missing Malaysia Airlines plane
News Desk
The Straits Times

Authorities in Malaysia. Vietnam and China are working together to locate a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane which lost contact with ground air control on Saturday while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

MAS Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference the last reported position of flight MH370 was approximately 120 nautical miles off Kota Bharu, in the South China Sea, in the airspace bordering Vietnam.

He said there was no bad weather report or distress call from the plane before it lost contact with ground air control.

The Boeing 777-200 was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it disappeared at 2.41 am local time on Saturday, about two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It had been due to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am on the same.

The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members. There were no Singaporeans onboard.

"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 Ahmad Jauhari.

"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew... Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," he added.

Jauhari added that the Malaysian flag carrier was working with authorities, who had launched an effort to locate the aircraft.

When asked about speculation that the plane had landed in another airport in China, Ahmad Jauhari said MAS was working with the authorities to verify the news.

"So far we have not received any confirmation that the plane has landed," he said.

Meantime in Beijing, anxious family members gathered at the Crowne Hotel Beijing Lido as they awaited news of the MAS flight.

Buses loaded with both journalists and family members arrived in a steady stream to the hotel about 20 minutes from Beijing Capital Airport.

But family members and friends were herded to a room on the second floor of the hotel and sealed off from the more than 50 journalists gathered outside. At least three security guards stood outside.

A relative, who only wanted to be known as Liang, told The Straits Times he was awoken by news on Saturday that his niece Bai Xiaomo, who is in her thirties, was on the flight.

"Her parents and relatives are now all gathered at home and crying, so we're here just to get some information," he added.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China is very worried about the news of the missing flight.

"The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe," said Wang told a press conference at about 1015am on the sidelines of the annual meetings of China’s parliament, the National People's Congress.

"As soon as we have any more information, we will give it to you immediately," he added, noting that China’s Foreign Ministry and related government agencies have activated an emergency response mechanism.

Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, a code share with China Southern Airlines. The plane was 11 years 10 months old and was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53. He has a total flying hours of 18,365 hours.

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

MAS has suffered few accidents in its history. In 1995, a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed when landing in Tawau, Sabah, killing 34.

One of its jets also crashed in 1977 in southern Malaysia, killing all 93 passengers and seven crew.

A smaller Twin Otter aircraft, operated by its unit MASwings, crashed upon landing in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island last October, killing a co-pilot and a passenger.

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-- ANN 2014-03-08

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Malaysia verifying report airliner crashed at sea

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia on Saturday was checking a report by a Vietnamese navy official that a Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing en route to Beijing has crashed, Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said.


"Since the report mentioned the Vietnamese navy, we need to verify that with them," he said, adding he had already requested the military to contact its Vietnamese counterpart.

The plane reportedly crashed in the South China Sea near the border between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that it still had no information on the location of the missing plane.

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-- The Nation 2014-03-08

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Without the benefit of looking at the flight path my first though was how close was this to North Korean airspace? Hopefully there are some survivors, but I fear the chances are slim.

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Without the benefit of looking at the flight path my first though was how close was this to North Korean airspace? Hopefully there are some survivors, but I fear the chances are slim.

Quite away off SD, it sounds like they were either at or just entering handover from Malaysian ATC to Vietnamese.ATC air space.

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Malaysia says pressing Vietnam for details on missing plane

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8, 2014 (AFP) - Malaysia's transport minister said Saturday the government currently had "no information" or confirmation that a missing Malaysian airliner had crashed, but was urgently asking Vietnam for details.


Air traffic controllers in the region lost contact with the Malaysian Airlines plane, with 239 people aboard, early on Saturday, triggering a search in the South China Sea involving several nations.

Vietnam's government has said that the aircraft, which was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, was near its airspace when it lost contact.
A Vietnamese state media report later quoted a naval official saying the Boeing 777-200 had crashed off southern Vietnam.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he has not been able to confirm that report with Vietnamese civil aviation authorities.
"But since that information came from the Vietnamese navy, I have asked our navy to contact their counterparts immediately," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

"At the moment we have no information of any wreckage at sea. I can confirm that we have not yet found the location of the plane."
Malaysia, Vietnam, China, and the Philippines have dispatched planes and aircraft to the South China Sea to search for the missing plane.

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2014-03-08

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Tears and fury as relatives wait for news of airliner

Tearful and angry, the friends and relatives of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lashed out at the company Saturday as journalists besieged them in a Beijing hotel.

Many were taken there by the airline after going to the Chinese capital’s airport to meet the flight, scheduled to land at around 6:30am.

A press conference was expected at the same location, and when others arrived later, they had to run the gauntlet of scores of Chinese and international reporters shoving microphones and cameras in their faces.

"They should have told us something before now," said one visibly distressed man in his 30s, from the Chinese city of Tianjin.

A man in his 20s struggled to help a grieving older woman, possibly his mother, into a quiet room as journalists shouted questions at her.

"They are useless," he said of the airline. "I don’t know why they haven’t released any information. We waited for four hours and all they told us was the very few details they released at the media conference."

Fighting back tears, a 20-year-old woman who had gone to the airport to meet a college friend said the passenger’s family still had not been told by the airline she was on board.

According to Malaysia Airlines, 153 of the 239 people on board the missing flight-- a code share with China Southern Airlines -- are Chinese citizens.

Scores of family members spoke to airline officials in small groups in a room on the hotel’s second floor.

Security at times struggled to hold back the huge throng of reporters crowding outside the door and making it difficult for relatives to enter or exit.

One woman in her twenties entered the room frantically crying, ignoring questions from the horde.

A man in his 60s wiped tears from his eyes with a handkerchief as he entered the room. He hit a cameraman in the face who tried to film him as he walked by, as a security guard shouted "Don’t you all have families?"

AFP

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-- The Nation 2014-03-08

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RIP to all those on board, whoever they are.

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An inflammatory post has been removed.

What, already! What is it with some people.

Just heard this on the news. Flight path would have taken it over the south eastern tip of Thailand but it never made it that far. Hope the worst fears are not realised.

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Extremely strange that their was no mayday or SOS from the plane....... this is not like Papua New Guinea where planes go bang into mountains.....this is fairly clear navigable airspace with alternative landing options for a stricken plane relatively close at hand ... condolences to those on board, their relatives and associates...

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This is very odd. Very, very unusual for a plane of this age and type to 'go down'

If it is the case, of course, one's sympathies must be with those who are lost and their families.

I am not encouraged by what appears total confusion as to where the last contact with the plane was made.

The latitude/longitude figures released by various agencies are not the same. There is also the curious data on

Flightradar that the plane changed direction. In normal circumstances it is nearly impossible to 'lose' a plane

nowadays. Even if all on board electronics fail there are back-up battery systems. As far as I can see,

and I don't want to speculate there could have been instant, fatal decompression..have but only a few seconds at

35000 feet....but for what reason?...I travel on Malaysia Airlines!! Worrying!

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ID: 15   Posted (edited)

Oh my god. I hope they'll find many survivors. Don't really know what to think, as I have a bad feeling when reading it. -wai2.gif

Just found that:

http://www.thanhniennews.com/society/missing-malaysia-plane-found-crashing-off-vietnam-sea-navy-official-24480.html

"There are no Vietnamese navy boats in that area at the moment, so we have to ask boats from Phu Quoc island to be prepared for rescue," Admiral Ngo Van Phat told Tuoi Tre.

Got tears in my eyes just reading that....

Edited by sirchai

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This is very odd. Very, very unusual for a plane of this age and type to 'go down'

If it is the case, of course, one's sympathies must be with those who are lost and their families.

I am not encouraged by what appears total confusion as to where the last contact with the plane was made.

The latitude/longitude figures released by various agencies are not the same. There is also the curious data on

Flightradar that the plane changed direction. In normal circumstances it is nearly impossible to 'lose' a plane

nowadays. Even if all on board electronics fail there are back-up battery systems. As far as I can see,

and I don't want to speculate there could have been instant, fatal decompression..have but only a few seconds at

35000 feet....but for what reason?...I travel on Malaysia Airlines!! Worrying!

While I may sound callous, I would imagine your worrying is unfounded as the chances of such an incident happening again to the same airline would be negligble.

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A troll post of an inappropriate nature has been removed as well as a reply.

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It seems as though this is going to end in tragedy for all those aboard... Sad for the families and loved ones...

But as a layman, it does strike me as odd that a jetliner like this can simply disappear without any decent tracking to identify the location of its descent. At least that's been publicly disclosed thus far.

With satellites, radar, electronic beacons, and all the other tracking and snooping that goes on, I didn't think it was possible to fly undetected.

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....prior mention by someone that this exact plane had a damaged tail repaired in 2012......

...has that now been suppressed...???

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My company has a Diving Support Vessel within 1 to 1/1/2 days sailing distance that can send saturation divers down to 300 meters water depth and a Remote Operated Vehicle that can be deployed and search with video and sonar scanners down to 1,000 meters water depth. The Malaysian Navy website is down so no way to find a number to call there. Malaysia Airlines has no telephone numbers that answer or will connect, the Malaysian Embassy in Bangkok and the USA also do not connect when you dial their numbers.

Too bad there is no emergency response team number for those that can really offer some effective tools to maybe help save lives or at least see what is really happening subsea.

Hello jmccarty,

Right now there are conflicting reports - some say the plane crashed into South China Sea, some say it crashed on land. The official stand by Malaysia Airlines right now is 'the plane is missing'. I think it's standard operating procedure to not call it a 'crash' until wreckage is found. Many nationalities are involved, so international diplomacy, discretion etc. needs to be considered and these may sometimes hamper the the speed at which information can be disseminiated. Anyway, hats off to your efforts to help. I'm not sure if you have checked out the following yet, but here it is, in case you haven't: http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/site/dark-site.html

Cheers.

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My company has a Diving Support Vessel within 1 to 1/1/2 days sailing distance that can send saturation divers down to 300 meters water depth and a Remote Operated Vehicle that can be deployed and search with video and sonar scanners down to 1,000 meters water depth. The Malaysian Navy website is down so no way to find a number to call there. Malaysia Airlines has no telephone numbers that answer or will connect, the Malaysian Embassy in Bangkok and the USA also do not connect when you dial their numbers.

Too bad there is no emergency response team number for those that can really offer some effective tools to maybe help save lives or at least see what is really happening subsea.

You have mobilised the vessel?

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