At least 239 passengers on board a missing Malaysia Airlines plane are feared dead after the Boeing B777-200 disappeared over the South China Sea.
A major search operation was launched after MH370, which was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, lost communication in Vietnam’s airspace at 1.20am local time.
It is estimated that the aircraft would have been cruising at about 35,000 feet when it lost contact over the South China Sea, raising suspicions as no distress call was made.
The plane, which was expected to land in Beijing at 22:30 GMT, was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew – comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants) and 12 crew members.
Two large oil slicks have been spotted close to where the plane went missing, however it is not known whether these are related to the missing plane.
Malaysia Airline said in a statement today: “Together with all those affected by the MH370 incident, we understand the need to provide regular updates on the progress of the search and rescue operations.
“As the hours turn into days, we at Malaysia Airlines are similarly anxious and we appreciate the patience, support and prayers from everyone.
“We however acknowledge that the most affected group in this incident is the families of those on-board. As such, our primary focus at this point in time is to care for the families.
“This means providing them with timely information, travel facilities, accommodation, meals and emotional support. Initial financial assistance has been given out to all families. Caregivers are already assigned to each family and they are trained staff and volunteers from Malaysia and
“In the event flight MH370 is located, a Response Control Centre (RCC) in the area will be activated to support the needs of families.
“The airline continues to work with the authorities and we appreciate the help we are receiving from all parties during this critical and difficult time.”