A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew has gone missing over the South China Sea.
Naval official tells Vietnam state media rescue teams have been sent to assumed crash site, based on the flight path.
The airline also said on Saturday that search and rescue teams from countries closest to the missing plane’s flight path had been sent to scour a large area near its last known location
The Boeing 777-200ER flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing had been missing for hours when Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre news quoted Admiral Ngo Van Phat as saying he had asked boats from an island off south Vietnam to rush to the crash site.
Malaysia Airlines had yet to confirm that the aircraft had crashed and the Admiral later clarified his remarks, saying he had been referring to the presumed crash site.
A crash, if confirmed, would mark the US-built Boeing 777-200ER airliner’s deadliest incident since entering service 19 years ago.
Malaysia’s flag carrier said flight MH370 disappeared, without giving a distress signal, at 2.40am local time on Saturday (1840 GMT Friday), about two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
It had been due to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am local time on Saturday (2230 GMT Friday).
The flight was carrying 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 12 Indonesians and seven Australians among the 227 passengers, the airline said on Saturday.
There were also three US citizens, three from France, two passengers each from New Zealand, Ukraine, and Canada, and one each from Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands and Austria, the airline said in a statement. There were also two infants and twelve crew members on the flight.
“We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning bound for Beijing,” Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, Malaysia Airlines group chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The statement said the carrier was working with authorities, who had launched an effort to locate the aircraft.
A report by China’s Xinhua news agency said contact was lost with the plane while it was near Vietnamese airspace.