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Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 Missing with 239 Onboard

March 7, 2014 at 9:16 PM | by | ()

Above: 9M-MRO, the aircraft involved


A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has disappeared over where the Gulf of Thailand becomes the South China Sea, and neither the airline nor authorities are sure of its whereabouts or fate.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 12:41am local time Saturday and disappeared at 2:40am. It was meant to land in Beijing at 6:30am local time but, as we write this, it is already past 10am without any sign of the aircraft. The last radio contact and position on FlightRadar24 shows it traveling on course at 35,000 feet.

Malaysia Airlines hosted a press conference to confirm that there is a search and rescue operation underway. Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines VP of Operations, on CNN's AC360, states the only definite: "at the moment we have no idea where this aircraft is right now."

· The missing aircraft is a Boeing 777-200ER, tail number 9M-MRO.

· Radio contact with the plane was lost in Vietnam airspace, not long after leaving Malaysian airspace on its northeasterly course.

· MH370 is a scheduled service flying from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China. There are 239 people onboard, of 13 different nationalities. The total includes 227 passengers (the bulk of them Chinese) and 12 crew.

· At this point, the aircraft would have run out of fuel to remain in the air. Chinese state media confirms that the aircraft never entered China airspace nor made contact with Chinese air traffic control.

· The second media update, as published on Malaysia Airlines' website, is not optimistic:

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. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact at 2.40am (local Malaysia time) today.

Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing B777-200 aircraft. The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew - comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members. The passengers were of 13 different nationalities. Malaysia Airlines is 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.

Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support. Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members. The airline will provide regular updates on the situation.

Next-of-kin may head to the Support Facility Building at KLIA’s South Support Zone. For directions, call 03 8787 1269. The public may contact +603 7884 1234. For media queries, kindly contact +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276.

· Johannes Hano, Bureau Chief East Asia for ZDF German TV, tweets the below photo from Beijing Airport. The Arrivals board shows MH370 as delayed, in red at the top.

· The latest press conference from Malaysian Airlines has confirmed the nationalities of passengers:
China: 152 (+1 infant)
Malaysia: 38
Indonesia: 7
Australia: 7
India: 5
France: 3
United States: 3 (+1 infant)
New Zealand: 2
Ukraine: 2
Canada: 2
Russia: 1
Italy: 1
Taiwan: 1
Netherlands: 1
Austria: 1

· Some crew details, straight from the most recent media update:

The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53. He has a total flying hours of 18,365hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, a Malaysian, is aged 27. He has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.

· The latest statement, issued in Malaysia Airlines' press conference at 2:30pm local time in Kuala Lumpur, details their search operations and information strategy. Press conferences will be held every two hours.

· The Malaysian Navy ("we are deploying all the ships in the vicinity"), Air Force (with C-130s) and Coast Guard have been activated for the search operation, and are working along with similar forces from Vietnam and China. In the meantime, a Malaysia Airlines team is on its way to Beijing to provide support for the waiting families and media in China.

· As for rumors, Malaysia Airlines' spokesman states:

At the moment we have no information of any wreckage. No information of [terrorism], but we're looking at all possibilities. We are being as transparent as we can, but we want to make sure the information has been verified..using all the agencies available.

We don't know what happened to the plane, so it's too early to speculate. I want to pray really hard that they are all safe.

· Malaysia Airlines confirms that search and rescue operations are focusing on the area around which the aircraft last made radio contact.

· Nationalities have been updated to clarify that the previously report of 12 Indonesians is actually 7 Indonesians and 5 Indians.

[Photos: Schiefi, FlightRadar24 screenshot]

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