Malaysia Airlines Flight Vanishes, Three Americans on Board

Last radar location in the South China Sea.

ByABC News
March 6, 2014, 7:49 PM

BEIJING March 7, 2014 -- A Malaysia Airlines flight with 227 passengers on board - including two adult Americans and an infant - has gone missing and a search and rescue team has been deployed to locate the aircraft, a spokeswoman has confirmed to ABC News.

Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:55 a.m., and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., the airline said. It went missing two hours into the flight and disappeared off the radar northwest of Kota Bharu, Malaysia, in the South China Sea, at 6°33'05.4"N 103°20'39.5"E.

The airline said there are 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members on board the Boeing 777-200 aircraft.

A spokesman for Malaysia Airlines said Friday that the passengers included two adult Americans and a baby as well as travelers from Canada, Britain, Australia, France, India, the Netherlands, Russia and several other countries.

"We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370," the airline's chief executive officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement on Facebook.

"Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft," Yahya said. "Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew."

The plane's route would take the aircraft from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China. Vietnam said on its official website that its air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane "in Ca Mau province airspace before it had entered contact with Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control." Ca Mau is near the southern tip of Vietnam.

The plane was meant to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control at 1722 GMT but never appeared, the statement said, citing a senior Ministry of Defense official.

Malaysia's defense minister told a news conference, "We are trying to do everything in our power to [determine] where the plane is."

He said that the country had launched C-130 search planes and helicopters. "We have deployed all the ships to the area," the minister said.

Vietnam's Ministry of Defense has launched rescue efforts to find the plane, working in coordination with Malaysian and Chinese officials, a government statement said.

"We have not discovered any wreckage yet," the Malaysian official said.

Malaysia Airlines said the captain of the airliner, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was an experienced 53-year-old pilot who had 18,365 hours of flying since joining the airline in 1981. The first officer on the flight was identified as Fariq Hamid, 27, and had about 2,800 flight hours since 2007.

All countries in the possible flight path of the missing aircraft were performing a "communications and radio search," John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines' civil aviation agency, told the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the flight information board at the airport in Beijing indicated the flight was delayed.

An airport official wrote on a white board near the arrivals customer service desk that families of the missing passengers should go to the Lido Hotel. The notice was put up about four hours after the plane was overdue.

"Friends and families should go to the Lido Hotel for more information," Eric Yangchao, customer service representative for Beijing International Airport, told ABC News. Family members took a shuttle bus to the hotel.

In a statement on Twitter, Boeing said it was watching the situation closely. The Malaysian aircraft, a Boeing 777-200, is 11 years and 10 months old. The 777 model had not had a fatal crash in its 20 year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013.

ABC News' Joohee Cho contributed to this report