Updated: 03/08/2014 10:03 | By Agence France-Presse

Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane carrying 239

Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early Saturday, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst.


Malaysia Airlines hunts for missing plane carrying 239

Malaysia Airlines said a flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing early Saturday, and the airline was notifying next of kin in a sign it expected the worst - by Roslan Rahman

The airline said Flight MH370 disappeared Saturday at 2:40 am local time (1840 GMT Friday), about two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It had been due to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 am local time (2230 GMT Friday).

It was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, from 13 different nationalities, and 12 crew members. China's Xinhua news agency said 160 of the passengers were Chinese.

"We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing," Malaysia Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

The statement said the carrier was working with authorities, who had activated a search and rescue operation in an effort to locate the aircraft.

"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew," Ahmad Jauhari said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members."

The plane was a Boeing 777-200. The airline's Kuala Lumpur-Beijing route passes roughly over the Indochinese peninsula.

A report Xinhua news agency said contact was lost with the plane while it was over Vietnamese airspace.

Xinhua also quoted Chinese aviation authorities saying the plane did not enter China's air traffic control sphere.

A Malaysian Airlines spokeswoman said she could not immediately provide further details.

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) planes have had few accidents.

One of its jets crashed in 1977 in southern Malaysia, killing all 93 passengers and seven crew.    

A smaller Twin Otter aircraft, operated by its unit MASwings, crashed upon landing in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island last October, killing a co-pilot and a passenger.

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