SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Here is a timeline of events in the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner which vanished from radar screens on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early on Saturday:
- Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Flight departs at 12:21 a.m. (7.21 p.m. ET Friday), and is due to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. (2230 GMT) the same day. On board the Boeing 777-200ER are 227 passengers and 12 crew.
- Airline loses contact with plane between 1-2 hours after takeoff. No distress signal and weather is clear at the time.
- Missing plane last has contact with air traffic controllers 120 nautical miles off the east coast of the Malaysian town of Kota Bharu.
- Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam says plane failed to check in as scheduled at 1721 GMT while flying over sea between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City.
- Flight tracking website flightaware.com shows plane flew northeast over Malaysia after takeoff and climbed to altitude of 35,000 feet. The flight vanished from website’s tracking records a minute later while still climbing.
- Malaysia search ships see no sign of wreckage in area where flights last made contact. Vietnam says giant oil slick and column of smoke seen in its waters.
- Two men from Austria and Italy, listed among the passengers on a missing Malaysia Airlines flight, are not in fact on board. They say their passports were stolen.
- Malaysia Airlines says fears worst and is working with U.S. company that specializes in disaster recovery.
- Radar indicates flight may have turned back from its scheduled route to Beijing before disappearing.
- Malaysian rescue teams expand their search to the country’s western coast.
- Interpol says at least two passports recorded as lost or stolen in its database were used by passengers, and it is “examining additional suspect passports”.
- Malaysia’s state news agency quotes Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as saying the passengers using the stolen European passports were of Asian appearance.
- Investigators narrow focus of inquiries on possibility plane disintegrated in mid-flight, a source who is involved in the investigations in Malaysia tells Reuters.
- The United States review of American spy satellite imagery shows no signs of mid-air explosion.
- As dozens of ships and aircraft from seven countries scour the seas around Malaysia and south of Vietnam, questions mounted over whether a bomb or hijacking could have brought down the Boeing airliner.
- Hijacking could not be ruled out, said the head of Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Authority, Azharuddin Abdul Rahmanthe, adding the missing jet was an “unprecedented aviation mystery”.
- The disappearance of the Malaysian airliner could dent the national carrier’s plan to return to profit by end-2014, equity analysts said. Shares in MAS hit a record low on Monday.
(This story was fixed to correct typo in final paragraph)
Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Michael Perry