The search continued Saturday for a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, which the airline says went missing after taking off from Kuala Lumpur earlier in the day on a flight headed to Beijing.
Flight MH370 left Malaysia shortly after midnight, local time. That’s late morning Friday on the East Coast of the U.S. It should have landed in Beijing around 6:30 a.m. there — 5:30 p.m. ET Friday. Instead, the airline says, contact was lost about two hours into the flight.
“Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft,” the airline said in a statement posted to its Facebook page.
As afternoon turned to evening on Saturday in Asia, the search was focused on the waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.
As happens when news is breaking, some information that’s being reported may later turn out to have been incorrect. We’ll focus on reports from officials involved in the search and news outlets that have reporters in important locations.
Update at 4:50 a.m. ET, March 8. No Distress Call:
In its latest statement, Malaysia Airlines says that “so far, we have not received any emergency signals or distress messages from MH370.”
Reuters notes that the lack of any emergency signal 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 without issuing a distress call.”
Update at 4:30 a.m. ET, March 8. Latest Numbers On Passengers’ Nationalities:
In the past hour, the airline posted updated information on the nationalities of the 227 passengers. One change: Earlier, there were reports about four U.S. citizens, including an infant, on board. Now, the airline says the passenger manifest shows three U.S. citizens, including an infant.
The breakdown by country, according to the airline:
China/Taiwan; 154 including an infant
U.S.; 3, including an infant
New Zealand; 2
The 12 crew members are all Malaysian citizens, the airline says.
Update at 3:42 a.m. ET, March 8. Search Continues:
The search for the lost plane has now been underway for more than 12 hours in the waters between Vietnam and Malaysia. The Philippine military has dispatched three ships and a surveillance plane to join the search effort.
Boeing issued a statement saying the company is assembling a technical team to assist investigators.
“Boeing offers its deepest concern to the families of those aboard missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370,” the statement said.
Malaysia’s acting transport minister asked the public to refrain from speculation until evidence of the plane is found, the BBC reports.
“We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane. We are doing everything we can to ensure every possible angle has been addressed,” Seri Hishammuddin told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
Grieving relatives are being cared for in a room in the Kuala Lumpur airport, where media have been barred from entering, BBC reporter Jennifer Pak tweeted earlier this morning.
In Beijing, friends and relatives were instructed to go to a nearby hotel.
Update at 12:28 a.m. ET, March 8: Last Contact
As the search continues, China’s Xinhua news agency says the airplane lost contact in Vietnam’s air space. An airline executive told CNN that the airliner’s last communication was over the South China Sea, between Malaysia and Vietnam.
China’s CCTV tweeted that China has sent two ships to the South China Sea for rescue operations.
Update at 10:36 p.m. ET. 4 Americans?
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said during a televised press conference that four Americans, including an infant, were on flight MH370. (Note at 4:30 a.m. ET Saturday: the airline now says there were three U.S. citizens on board, including an infant.)
Yahya said the man piloting the plane was Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old Malaysian, who joined the airline in 1981.
Yahya said that that they were working to verify the authenticity of a report that claimed the aircraft had landed at Nanming in China.
“Our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” he said.
Yahya also clarified that the passengers on the plane are from 14 different countries — 153 of them are Chinese nationals.