BEIJING -- A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing remained missing hours after it lost contact with air traffic controllers Saturday, and a search-and-rescue effort was underway, officials said.
Flight MH370, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members aboard, was scheduled to land in the Chinese capital at 6:30 a.m. but did not arrive. It departed from the Malaysian capital at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and lost contact with Malaysian air traffic controllers about two hours later, the airline said.
Malaysia Airlines identified the pilot of the Boeing 777-200 as Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who joined airline in 1981.
Officials said three Americans were on the flight along with passengers from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, France, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Taiwan, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria.
Two infants were among the passengers, the airline said.
China’s official New China News Agency said 158 Chinese nationals were on board the flight, which apparently disappeared before entering Chinese airspace. The agency said the pilots had not been in touch with Chinese air traffic control.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam said the plane had failed to check in as scheduled while it was flying over the sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The “focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” the airline said in a statement on its website. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”
“We’re closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370,” Chicago-based Boeing said on its Twitter feed. “Our thoughts are with everyone on board.”
As of 11 a.m. the flight status board at Beijing airport still listed the flight as “delayed,” and family members were being directed to the nearby Lido Hotel.
Those seeking information on passengers can contact Malaysian airlines at +60-3-7884-1234.
Tommy Yang in The Times' Beijing bureau contributed to this report.