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Jet With Conoco Officers, Wives Missing

From Times Wire Services

A private jet carrying 12 people, including four Conoco Inc. executives and their spouses, disappeared Wednesday in eastern Malaysia, and company officials said the outlook was not good.

The twin-engine Grumman Gulfstream 2 jet carrying four executives of the Conoco oil company, their four spouses, an assistant to one of the executives and a three-member crew disappeared from radar screens shortly after being cleared to descend for landing from 4,000 feet as it approached Kota Kinabalu airport in Sabah state.

Conoco is a subsidiary of Du Pont Co., which owns the plane.

The plane left Tokyo’s Narita Airport about 10 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive at Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah about five hours later to refuel before continuing on to Jakarta, Indonesia, when it lost contact with the Malaysian airport.

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“We have searched both land and sea but found nothing yet,” said Adnan Yahaya, director of Sabah’s Civil Aviation Department.

Rescue operations will resume today, Conoco President Constantine Nicandros told a news conference in Houston.

Nicandros said he remained hopeful that the missing passengers would be found but acknowledged that the outlook was not good.

“Because of the close-knit relationships among our people, a cloud of deep concern hangs over our headquarters, as well as all Conoco installations throughout the world,” a grim-faced Nicandros told reporters.

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The 17-year-old jet, which had undergone routine maintenance Aug. 26, was thought to be in good mechanical shape and there was no indication of foul play, he said.

Chief Conoco pilot Jesse McNown said pilot Kenneth Fox last spoke by radio with Malaysian air traffic controllers at 2:03 p.m. Malaysian time (11:03 p.m. PDT) and was scheduled to land 12 minutes later.

Fox also radioed Conoco employees at the airport and told them “everything was fine,” said McNown. “He said he would see them in 15 minutes.”

At least six aircraft searched for the jet after it disappeared.

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