Want China Times, Xinhua and Staff Reporter 2014-03-08
|Malaysia Airlines holds a press conference in Beijing about the missing|
aircraft, March 8. (Photo/Xinhua)
China is worried over the missing Malaysia Airlines flight scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Saturday morning, with search and rescue operations under way.
Contact was lost with a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China's Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) confirmed on Saturday.
The Boeing 777-200 aircraft left the Malaysian capital at 12:41 am Beijing time on Saturday, and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 am, according to Malaysia Airlines.
The CAAC confirmed the flight number was MH370, with 239 people on board, including 12 crew members and about 160 Chinese passengers. So far, the flight has not contacted Chinese air traffic management department or entered China's air traffic control area.
Contact with the flight was lost along with its radar signal at 1:20 am Beijing time on Saturday when it was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam.
Malaysia Airlines said on its website that the company is trying to locate the flight with emergency rescue teams.
Yang Chuantang, China's minister of transport, announced the launch of the highest-degree emergency response mechanism. The ministry is closely observing the incident and actively coordinating with domestic authorities as well as maritime rescue authorities and civil aviation administrations in Malaysia and Vietnam.
Yang also put the professional rescue forces in the South China Sea on standby.
The CAAC has told its air traffic management office keep in touch with its Malaysian counterpart and ordered Beijing Capital International Airport to comfort relatives and friends waiting anxiously for the arrival of the missing flight.
Malaysian national Chuang Ken Fei had been waiting for his two friends in Terminal 3 of Capital Airport when he said, "Staff at the airport told me the flight did not take off but I can see from my mobile application that the aircraft was in the air."
The airport has formed an emergency group to deal with the incident.
Foreign minister Wang Yi said on Saturday that China is very worried over the missing flight. "The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe," said Wang.
Yin Zhuo, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said China must improve its search and rescue capacity at sea, as it is still not strong enough.
A communication manager for Boeing China told a Xinhua reporter, "We are closely monitoring reports from the MH370 flight of Malaysia Airlines. Our thoughts are with everyone on the plane."
The flight was a code share with China Southern Airlines. A spokesman for China Southern Airlines said they are investigating whether any of the company's passengers were on board.
The plane took its first flight on May 14, 2002 and Malaysia Airlines took possession of the aircraft on May 31 of the same year.
Malaysia Airlines operates in Southeast Asia, East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and on the route between Europe and Australia. It has 15 Boeing 777-200 models in its fleet.
On July 6, 2013, another Boeing 777-200 operated by Asiana Airlines, a carrier based in South Korea, crashed on the route between Seoul Incheon International Airport and San Francisco International Airport while attempting to land. Three Chinese students were killed and more than 180 people were injured.