A Boeing Plane Carrying 239 People Has Been Missing Since Friday Night (Update)

By Kat Hannaford on at

Extremely worrying news from Asia this weekend, with a Malaysia Airlines Boeing B777-200 plane from Kuala Lumpur vanishing with 239 people on board on Friday, and almost 48 hours later, there's still no trace.

Originally destined for Beijing, flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur 18:40 GMT Friday night, and was supposed to land just under four hours later, at 22:30 GMT. Instead, around 120 nautical miles of Malaysia, it vanished from radar detection.

Alarmingly, CCTV footage has shown two men boarding the flight with stolen passports. It's not known whether this is related to the plane going missing, but officials have told families to expect the worst.

Two Chinese maritime rescue ships, three navy patrol ships and three air force planes from the Philippines, and numerous Malaysian helicopters and Vietnamese aircraft and ships have been combing the water between Malaysia and Vietnam searching for wreckage. It's believed over 40 aircraft and 25 ships have been pulled in to help.

The BBC is reporting that the plane carried people of 14 different nationalities, of which 227 were passengers, two of them being children, plus 12 crew members.

The Boeing 777 has one of the safest track records of any planes, with last year's San Francisco airport crash, which killed three teenage girls, being the only fatal crash in its 19-year history. [BBC and Euronews and Sky News]

Updated 17:13: Vietnamese navy planes suspect they've spotted fragments of the plane, but are unable to confirm their origins until dawn. Meanwhile, the CEO of a Malaysian Airlines subsidiary has claimed the plane was found to be "in proper condition" when it was last inspected just 10 days ago.

Updated 17:23: A source speaking to Reuters claims that "The fact that we are unable to find any debris so far appears to indicate that the aircraft is likely to have disintegrated at around 35,000 feet."

Updated 18:08: Interpol has confirmed that it is investigating more suspect passports that were used to board the missing plane. Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble has also expressed frustration that the airlines did not screen the passports prior to departure, as the stolen passports were listed in Interpol's databases.

Updated 18:20The Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced that it is sending a working group to Malaysia to assist with the local Chinese Embassy and investigate the incident. China is reportedly making serious efforts to locate the missing passengers, 154 of whom are Chinese nationals.

Updated 19:15: A Chinese Military radar expert claims that, with radar technology being what it is, it is doubtful that the plane "disappeared" even if there had been an explosion. The expert says that it is more logical to assume that the Vietnamese officials either neglected their duty, or are withholding information.

Updated 22:45: The first picture of possible debris has been made public.

Updated 23:10: Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation has said that the debris discovered off the coast of Vietnam is not part of the missing 777, even though Vietnamese ships have been searching since dawn and can't locate the suspected plane door.

Updated 8:04am, 10th March: Malaysia's civil aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman has told media that officials haven't yet ruled out hijacking as a possible explanation.

Updated 10:54am, 10th March: Images from American spy satellites have been analysed for sightings of a possible mid-air explosion, but didn't locate anything to suggest one occurred.

Updated 10:20am, 11th March: China has deployed 10 satellites to help search for the plane. Meanwhile, the search has widened to the western coast of Malaysia.

Updated 10:54am, 11th March: Interpol and the Malaysian police have stated they don't believe the passengers holding stolen passports were involved with terrorist activities.

Updated 14:54, 11th March: Flight MH370's final radio message has been made public, signalling that everything on board appeared to be normal. "All right, good night," the flight's pilot replied to Malaysian air control, a few minutes before the plane disappeared. Malaysian civilian aviation authorities have stated that the plane may have attempted an air turn back. The Malaysian government also warns that the search may last for months before all the answers are uncovered.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia