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UPDATE: Search On For Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

UPDATE: Search On For Missing Malaysian Airlines Flight

Update: Two Vietnamese jets searching for a missing Malaysia airlines plane have spotted some oil slicks - as long as twelve miles - and it's suspected they came from the missing plane.

About 239 people are believed to have been on that flight when it took off from Kuala Lumpur.

Fox's David Piper has more from Bangkok, Thailand: There were 14 different nationalities on board, including at least 3 Americans, one of them a child. One hundred fifty of the passengers on board were Chinese nationals.

Friends and relatives have been waiting anxiously at Beijing's airport. Some have voiced their frustrations about the lack of news about the plane.


BEIJING - A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is missing, and a search-and-rescue operation has been launched.

"We deeply regret that we have lost all contact with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41am earlier this morning bound for Beijing," CEO Ahmad Juahari Yahya said in a statement released Friday night.

The airline is contacting next of kin of passengers and crew, Yahya said.

"Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Yahya's statement read.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," it continued

Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact with flight MH370 at Saturday at 2:40am local time (10:40am Friday PT), about 2½ hours after taking off, according to Yahya and a statement by the airline.

The Boeing 777-200 was to have landed in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. local time (3:30pm Friday PT), the airline reported in its statement.

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

The twin-engine jet carried 227 passengers, including 2 infants, and 12 crew members.

The public may contact the airline at 011-60-603-7884-1234 for more information.

Experts cite the plane's strong safety record. Since it was introduced in 1995, the Boeing 777 has been involved in only two other major accidents and three hijackings, records show.

The most notable accident occurred in July 2013, when an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200 with 291 passengers and 16 crew members crashed as it landed at San Francisco, killing three passengers and seriously injuring 48 others. Investigators blamed in pilot error.

The flight was a codeshare with Chinese carrier China Southern Airways, flight number CZ748. At 9.50 am local time, over three hours after the scheduled arrival, both flights were still listed as 'Delayed' on the Beijing airport official website. The flight was bound for Beijing's Terminal 3, a major extension built in time for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

 

Some of the passengers are likely to be mainland Chinese tourists to Malaysia, where a quarter of the population are ethnic Chinese. The country has become an increasingly popular destination for Chinese travelers. The Malaysian government has targeted two million Chinese tourist arrivals this year in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 2014.

China used to have a poor reputation for aviation safety, but has greatly improved its safety record in recent decades, even as it has rapidly expanded the number of flights and built scores of new airports across the country.

The search-and-rescue operation comes amid one of the safer stretches of global aviation in history. For instance, in the U.S., 2012 was the airline industry's safest since the dawn of the jet age. An air disaster with a death toll more than 200 hasn't occurred since 2009, when Air France Flight 447 went down during a flight from Brazil to Paris, resulting in the deaths of all 216 passengers and 12 crew members.

 

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