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Mar 10, 2014 at 10:24am IST

Malaysian plane en route to China with 239 people on board goes missing

Kuala Lampur: Malaysia Airlines said it had lost contact with a flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday.

The Boeing B777-200 aircraft departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 am and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 am. The flight lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 am.

The plane lost communication two hours into the flight in Vietnam's airspace at 1:20 am (18:20 GMT Friday), China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

The flight carried 162 passengers from China, It also had 38 citizens from Malaysia, 12 from Indonesia, 7 from Australia, 3 from France, 4 including an infant from USA, 2 each from New Zealand, Ukraine and Canada. 1 each from Netherland, Russia, Taiwan, Austria and Italy. There was no Indian on board the flight. The Airline is now trying to get in contact with the relatives of people who were in the flight.

China has sent ships to the South China Sea to search for jetliner, CCTV report. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi reacted to the incident saying, "This news has made us all very worried. We hope every one of the passengers is safe. We are doing all we can to get more details.Contact lost over Vietnam airspace."

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.

Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines Vice President told CNN that the aircraft had fuel for 7 hours of flight. However, he added that the plane could not be located. "We tried to contact the aircraft by various means but all attempts have failed. The aircraft had 7 hours of fuel. No idea where the aircraft is. We are in touch with search and rescue operations," he said.

"Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," said Sharuji.

He also rubbished reports of the aircraft making a safe landing. He said, "No clue of the whereabouts of the aircraft. Reports that the plane has landed safely somewhere is wrong after we checked with the air station that made the claims."

The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants and 12 crew members.

Malaysia Airlines is currently working with authorities who have activated their search and rescue team to locate the aircraft.

Helpline numbers: 607-7884-1234 / 5698

(With inputs from Reuters)