KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — A passenger flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing is missing and would likely have run out of fuel, Malaysia Airlines said Saturday.
The airline said at a news conference late Friday that four Americans were on board the flight including three adults and one infant.
There was no distress call from the aircraft. The search focused on the South China Sea.
“At the moment we have no idea where this aircraft is right now,” Malaysia Airlines Vice President of Operations Control Fuad Sharuji said on CNN’s “AC360.”
Subang Air Traffic Control lost contact with Flight MH370 at about 2:40 a.m. local time (1:40 p.m. ET Friday), Sharuji said.
“We tried to call this aircraft through various means,” he said.
The Boeing 777-200 departed Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12:41 a.m. and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., a 2,300-mile (3,700 kilometer) trip. It was carrying 227 passengers, two of them infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said.
At the time of its disappearance, the plane was carrying about 7.5 hours of fuel, Sharuji said.
The passengers are of 13 nationalities, the airline said. They were from China and Taiwan (154), Malaysia (38), Indonesia (12), Australia (7), France (3), United States (4), New Zealand (2), Ukraine (2), Canada (2), Russia (1), Italy (1), Netherlands (1), Austria (1).
By CNN’s math, that adds up to 228 passengers, one more than the total cited by the airline. There was no immediate explanation offered.
“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the statement said. The public can call +603 7884 1234 for further information.
Efforts to contact the plane were fruitless.
“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts” with the jet, said CEO Ahmad Juahari Yahya in a statement.
The airline said in a statement that its representatives were contacting the relatives of those aboard. “Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” it said.
“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Boeing said in a tweet. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”
“It doesn’t sound very good,” retired American Airlines Capt. Jim Tilmon told CNN’s “AC360.” He noted that the route is mostly overland, which means that there would be plenty of antennae, radar and radios to contact the plane.
“I’ve been trying to come up with every scenario that I could just to explain this away, but I haven’t been very successful.”
He said the plane is “about as sophisticated as any commercial airplane could possibly be,” with an excellent safety record.
There is one recent blemish: An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 291 passengers struck a seawall at San Francisco International Airport in July 2013, killing three people and wounding dozens more.
China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that Chinese aviation authorities had confirmed that 160 Chinese nationals were aboard the plane, which was lost from radar in airspace controlled by Vietnam.
China’s embassy in Malaysia has formed an emergency team headed by the Chinese ambassador to deal with the incident, it said.
Malaysia Airlines operates in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and on the route between Europe and Australasia.
It has 15 of the Boeing 777-200 planes in its fleet, CNN’s Richard Quest reported.
Part of the company is in the private sector, but the government owns most of it.
The airline’s roots date back to 1937, when it operated passenger and cargo flights in Malaysia.
In April 1942, it was incorporated as Malaysia Airways Limited; it later became Malaysia Airlines.
The airline has its headquarters and registered office at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, Malaysia, and its main airline hub is at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to its website.
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