A Malaysia Airlines flight that was reported disappeared Saturday with 239 people on board has crashed in the South China Sea, Vietnamese media said, citing a higher-ranking maritime authority, according to a Reuters report.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Boeing 777-200ER headed to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur at about 2:40 a.m. local time (1:40 p.m. EST Friday), authorities said earlier, according to a CNN report.
If the report about the crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet is corroborated, it would be the US-made airliner's "deadliest crash since entering service 19 years ago.”
"At the moment we have no idea where this aircraft is right now," Malaysia Airlines Vice President of Operations Control Fuad Sharuji said on CNN's "AC360." "We tried to call this aircraft through various means."
The airline said they tried to confirm reports that the plane had landed in a number of places, but found that not an iota of the reports was accurate. When the jet lost control with air traffic controllers, it was carrying about 7.5 hours of fuel, Sharuji said.
The flight was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline confirmed.
Malaysia Airlines said it had yet to verify that the airplane had crashed.
“We regret to announce that Subang Traffic Control lost contact with flight MH370 at 2:40 a.m. today. We are currently working with international authorities on the search and rescue mission and as at 1400 hours, 08 March 2014, we have no information on the location of the airline,” the company wrote on its website.
The airline said that passengers aboard the plane were of 14 nationalities, including 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians, about 152 Chinese, three US citizens and six Australians. The infants aboard were identified as a Chinese and an American.
If the crash is confirmed, it would be the second deadly crash involving a Boeing 777 in less than a year after an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-200ER's crash-landing in San Francisco in July 2013, which killed three passengers and injured more than 180.
The Malaysia Airlines flight lost contact and radar signals with air traffic controllers while flying over theair traffic control region in Vietnam, according to China’s state-controlled Xinhua News Agency. The Chinese mission in Malaysia made a crisis management squad headed by the Chinese ambassador to handle the event, it said.