According to Reuters ten minutes ago, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 carrying 227 passengers and twelve crew went missing off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday and is presumed to have crashed.
There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. There were no indicators of sabotage nor claims of a terrorist attack.
By late on Saturday night (March 8), there were no confirmed signs of the airliner or any wreckage, over 20 hours after it went missing. Operations will continue.
A crash, if confirmed, would likely signify the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777-200 in less than a year.
An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER crash-landed in San Francisco in July 2013, killing three passengers and injuring more than 180.
COMMENT: A large number of planes and ships from several countries were scouring the area where the plane last made contact, about halfway between Malaysia and the southern tip of Vietnam.
"The search and rescue operations will continue as long as necessary," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. He said fifteen air force aircraft, six navy ships and three coast guard vessels had been pressed into service by Malaysia.
Vietnam dispatched two navy boats from Phu Quoc island and sent two jets and one helicopter from Ho Chi Minh City to search for the missing airliner. It was readying a further seven planes and nine boats to join the search effort.
Other than Vietnamese and Malaysian search operations, the US, Philippines and Singapore have also dispatched aircraft.
The eleven-year-old Boeing 777-200, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines, took off at 1240 hours from Kuala Lumpur International Airport and was apparently flying in good weather conditions when it went missing without as much as a distress notification.
The disappearance of the airliner is a chilling echo of an Air France flight that crashed into the South Atlantic on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people on board. It vanished for hours and wreckage was found two days later.
Earlier on Saturday, MH said people from fourteen nationalities were among the 227 passengers, including at least 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans.