Mar. 8 - Malaysia Airlines chief says search underway for missing plane as unconfirmed reports emerge of a crash off south Vietnam. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
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A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing over the South China Sea on Saturday (March 8), prompting China to send ships to scour the water for possible wreckage.
"We are deeply saddened this morning with the news on MH370.. Malaysia Airlines confirms that flight MH370 lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40am, this morning," said Malaysia Airlines group Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.
As news of the disappearance filtered through to distraught friends and relatives who had been waiting for the flight to arrive in Beijing, Malaysia Airlines said it was still investigating and took no questions at the brief news conference.
Flight MH370, operating a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, last had contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
Malaysia and Vietnam were conducting a joint search and rescue, he said but gave no details. China has also sent two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in any rescue, state television said on one of its microblogs.
"The Malaysia Authorities contacted the Vietnamese authorities because it's actually an area borderline between the Malaysian airspace and Vietnamese control," said Ahmad Jauhari.
The flight left Kuala Lumpur at 12.21 a.m. (1621 GMT Friday) but no trace had been found of the plane hours after it was due to land in the Chinese capital at 6.30 a.m. (2230 GMT Friday) the same day.
Unconfirmed Vietnamese state media reports quoting a senior naval official say the plane may have crashed off south Vietnam.
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