Malaysia Airlines flight missing with 239 people, including 2 Canadians
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 7, 2014 7:41PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, March 8, 2014 2:14AM EST
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that two Canadians were onboard a missing plane bound for Beijing.
At a news conference, Malaysia Airlines Group CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya confirmed the Canadians were among the 239 people on the plane, which lost contact with air traffic control two hours in to the flight.
In an earlier statement, the airline said flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. (local time) on March 8.
The plane, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, was expected to land in Beijing approximately six hours later.
The airline said the plane lost contact with Subang air traffic control at approximately 2:40 a.m.
An airline spokesman said the military, our air force and our navy had been brought into the search. Requests for assistance have gone out to China, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The airline said 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members were onboard, including 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians and four Americans.
The flight’s captain is 53 years old, the airline said, and has logged 18,000 flight hours. In all, the passengers were of 13 different nationalities.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on the missing flight in a tweet:
Our thoughts & deepest prayers are with those affected by the disappearance of the plane in Malaysia. #cdnpoli— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) March 8, 2014
The airline said it is contacting next-of-kin of the passengers and crew.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members,” Yahya said.
The airline also said the flight was “code-shared” with China Southern Airlines. The practice allows a seat to be purchased from an airline different from the one that is operating the flight.
Authorities have activated their search-and-rescue team in an effort to locate the plane.
Malaysia Airlines has provided a phone number that the public can call for further information: +603-7884-1234.
Aviation expert Mark Miller told CTV News Channel the plane was possibly over water, near the north coast of Vietnam, at the time it lost contact with air traffic control.
A search over water, Miller said, “can be very difficult.”
Miller said the aircraft was “extremely modern” and estimated it was built within the past 12 years.
“It’s a great airplane, it’s got an exemplary safety record,” Miller said.
“If indeed this airplane has been destroyed, this would only be the second whole loss of a triple 7,” he added. “It would be the first mass casualty accident, in fact, if this airplane has gone down.”
Last July, three people died and dozens injured after an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash landed at a San Francisco International airport.
Aviation analyst Marc-Antoine Plourde told News Channel it’s “very rare” for a plane to lose contact with air traffic control.
“There's so many ways to get in touch with air traffic control and vice-versa that these lapses only last for a few minutes,” said Plourde, who is also a commercial airline pilot.
Plourde added there is little hope that the airplane is still in the air.
“At this point they would have probably run out of fuel,” he said. “You don't lose contact for such a long period.”
Speaking at an unrelated news conference, China Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed worry over the missing plane and said he hoped “all the passengers are safe.”
He also said China and its consular missions had activated an “emergency mechanism” to respond to the matter.
“We’re doing all we can to get more details,” the minister said.