China-bound Malaysian jet vanishes with 239 aboard - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

China-bound Malaysian jet vanishes with 239 aboard

Posted: Updated:

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact over the South China Sea early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and international aviation authorities still hadn't located the jetliner several hours later.

Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said at a news conference that Flight MH370 lost contact with Malaysian air traffic control at 2:40 a.m. (18:40 GMT Friday), about two hours after it had taken off from Kuala Lumpur. It had been expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday (22:30 GMT Friday).

Pham Hien, a Vietnamese search and rescue official, said the last signal from the plane detected by the aviation authority was 120 nautical miles (140 miles; 225 kilometers) southwest of Vietnam's southernmost Ca Mau province. Lai Xuan Thanh, director of Vietnam's civil aviation authority, said the plane was over the sea and bound for Vietnamese airspace but air traffic officials in the country were never able to make contact.

The plane "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control," Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement issued by the government.

More than 10 hours after last contact, officials from several countries were struggling to locate the plane, which carried passengers from at least 14 countries, mostly from Asia but also from the U.S. and Europe.

All countries in the possible flight path of the missing aircraft were performing a "communications and radio search," said John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines' civil aviation agency. Xinhua said China has dispatched two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in the search and rescue efforts.

"It couldn't possibly be in the air because it would have run out of oil by now," said Shukor Yusof, an aviation analyst at S&P Capital IQ. "It's either on the ground somewhere, intact, or possibly it has gone down in the water."

At Beijing's airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather to a hotel about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service. A woman wept aboard the shuttle bus while saying on a mobile phone, "They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good!"

"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Yahya said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members."

Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines' vice president of operations control, told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet (10,670 meters) and that the pilots had reported no problem with the aircraft.

Finding planes that disappear over the ocean can be very difficult. Airliner "black boxes" — the flight data and cockpit voice recorders — are equipped with "pingers" that emit ultrasonic signals that can be detected underwater.

Under good conditions, the signals can be detected from several hundred miles away, said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. If the boxes are trapped inside the wreckage, the sound may not travel as far, he said. If the boxes are at the bottom of a deep in an underwater trench, that also hinders how far the sound can travel. The signals also weaken over time.

Air France Flight 447, with 228 people on board, disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janiero to Paris on June 1, 2009. Some wreckage and bodies were recovered over the next two weeks, but it took nearly two years for the main wreckage of the Airbus 330 and its black boxes to be located and recovered.

The Malaysian Airlines plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. It said there were 153 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, 12 from Indonesia, seven from Australia, four from the U.S., three from France, two each from New Zealand, Canada and Ukraine, and one each from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Austria.

Yahya, the airline CEO, said the 53-year-old pilot, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, has more than 18,000 flying hours and has been flying for Malaysia Airlines since 1981. The first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Hamid, has about 2,800 hours of experience and has flown for the airline since 2007.

The tip of the wing of the same Malaysian Airlines Boeing broke off Aug. 9, 2012, as it was taxiing at Pudong International Airport outside Shanghai. The wingtip collided with the tail of a China Eastern Airlines A340 plane. No one was injured.

Malaysia Airlines' last fatal incident was in 1995, when one its planes crashed near the Malaysian city of Tawau, killing 34 people.

Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes. The state-owned carrier last month reported its fourth straight quarterly loss.

The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 19-year history until an Asiana Airlines plane crashed in San Francisco in July 2013. All 16 crew members survived, but three of the 291 passengers, all teenage girls from China, were killed.

___

Associated Press writers Chris Brummitt in Hanoi, Vietnam, Didi Tang and video producer Aritz Parra in Beijing, Stephen Wright in Bangkok and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:19:22 GMT
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
  • Athens man pleads not guilty in Craigslist kitten killings

    Athens man pleads not guilty in Craigslist kitten killings

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:14:53 GMT
    Ronald Fraser Golden, 49, of Athens pleaded not guilty to 22 cruelty charges during a brief hearing in Limestone County, where authorities say he killed the animals in a part of his home he called "the cat room."

    More >>
    Ronald Fraser Golden, 49, of Athens pleaded not guilty to 22 cruelty charges during a brief hearing in Limestone County, where authorities say he killed the animals in a part of his home he called "the cat room."

    More >>
  • Girl who was struck by plane that crashed on Florida beach dies

    Girl who was struck by plane that crashed on Florida beach dies

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 4:34 PM EDT2014-07-29 20:34:21 GMT
    A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials in Florida said Tuesday.More >>
    A 9-year-old girl who was struck by a plane that crash-landed on a beach while she vacationed with her family has died from her injuries, law enforcement officials in Florida said Tuesday.
    More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...
  • Latest StoriesMore>>

  • Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Greene County Schools ready to "turn up"

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-30 12:49:10 GMT
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
    The Greene County School System has announced a back to school event. It's called the “Back to School Turn-Up.” More >>
  • Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Social Media Night big draw at Regions Field

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 7:22 AM EDT2014-07-30 11:22:59 GMT
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
    In Baseball, it's important to keep your eye on the ball, but local baseball fans are also keeping their eyes on social media. It's something that's helping the Birmingham Barons fill the seats for home games.Lynnsey Nowell says, "I keep up with a lot of things around Birmingham through Facebook, Twitter, Instragram. I'm one of those people always re-posting stuff." It's that effort that scored Nowell free tickets to Tuesday night' s Barons Game.She also threw the first pitch.Nowell says, "I'...More >>
  • Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Jews and Christians pack out the Levite Community Center for the largest rally since 1974

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:13 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:13:13 GMT
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
    The guns and rockets are on the other side of the world but the conflict is impacting people in Alabama.More >>
  • Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Shelby wants plan to fix Central Alabama VA

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 9:19 PM EDT2014-07-30 01:19:22 GMT
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
    U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today sent a letter with U.S. Representative Martha Roby to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, who was confirmed by the Senate Tuesday. The letter requests that Secretary McDonald provide a plan within 60 days that identifies the problems at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System, what can be done to correct them, and a timeline for implementation. It also requests that Secretary McDonald visit the facility in Montgomery with Senator Shelby and Represe...More >>
  • Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Sam factor prepares Rams for sensitivity session

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 8:26 PM EDT2014-07-30 00:26:35 GMT
    To guard against another Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>
    To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.More >>
  • Uber blasts Birmingham Councilwoman over transportation code

    Uber blasts Birmingham Councilwoman over transportation code

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:14:19 GMT
    A weeks-long, heated debate over the City of Birmingham's transportation code ends with more friction.More >>
    A weeks-long, heated debate over the City of Birmingham's transportation code ends with more friction.More >>
  • UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    UAB guard Chad Frazier granted his release from basketball program

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 7:12 PM EDT2014-07-29 23:12:02 GMT
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
    The leading scorer on the UAB basketball team is leaving the program. Guard Chad Frazier was granted his release and will not return."Chad Frazier has been granted his release from our program," head coach Jerod Haase said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to our program and wish him the best." Frazier, a first team All-Conference USA selection, was arrested last month and charged with third degree domestic violence. The case was later dismissed.Frazier played one season at UAB...More >>
  • Stephen A. Smith suspended by ESPN for comments on Ray Rice domestic abuse discussion

    Stephen A. Smith suspended by ESPN for comments on Ray Rice domestic abuse discussion

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-07-29 22:50:13 GMT
    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.More >>
    ESPN has suspended outspoken sportscaster Stephen A. Smith for a week because of his comments about domestic abuse suggesting women should make sure that they don't do anything to provoke an attack.
    More >>