BEIJING – Malaysia Airlines confirmed today that it had lost contact with a flight carrying 239 people that was en route to Beijing.
The flight was scheduled to land at Beijing at 6:30 a.m. local time, and air traffic controllers lost contact with it at 2:41 a.m.
A Vietnamese newspaper later reported that the Vietnamese Navy had confirmed the plane crashed into the ocean. According to the reports, Vietnamese military radar recorded the plane crashing into the sea.
There was no confirmation of the report from Malaysia Airlines, however.
“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with Flight MH370, which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. earlier this morning bound for Beijing,” the airline said this morning in a statement.
The airline said Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers, including four Americans, and 12 crew members on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
The passengers included 13 different nationalities. “Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities, who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the statement said.
“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew.” China’s broadcast network CCTV, citing Chinese aviation officials, reported that 158 Chinese nationals were on board the flight. State news agency Xinhua reported radar contact with the flight was lost while it was in Vietnamese airspace, but as of 11 a.m. local time there had been no reports of any air crash in Chinese waters.
Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines’ vice president of operations control, told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet and that the pilots had reported no problem with the aircraft.
The tip of the wing of the same Malaysia Airlines Boeing broke off Aug. 9, 2012, as it was taxiing at Pudong International Airport outside Shanghai. The wingtip collided with the tail of a China Eastern Airlines A340 plane. No one was injured.
The last major crash of Malaysia Airlines flight was in 1995, when a Fokker 50 crashed during approach in Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia, killing 34 people.
In 1977, a Malaysia Airlines flight was hijacked and crashed in Tanjung Kupang, Johor, Malaysia, killing all 100 people aboard.
Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes.