|A Malaysian passenger plane carrying 239 people, including 227 passengers and 12 crew members, has lost contact with air traffic control after leaving Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, the carrier said Saturday. This undated file photo from the internet shows a Malaysia Airlines' Boeing 777 passenger plane. (Xinhua)
KUALA LUMPUR/HANOI, March 8 (Xinhua) -- Multinational rescue efforts have been launched to try and locate a Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing early Saturday two hours after take off in Kuala Lumpur.
Flight MH 370, a Boeing B777-200 aircraft carrying 239 people, was due to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m.(2230GMT), but its whereabouts remain unknown nearly 11 hours after it lost contact with ground controls.
Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines are contributing to the search and rescue efforts. China has dispatched two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in rescue work for the missing aircraft.
Malaysia Airlines group chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the missing plane made its last contact about 200 km east of the Malaysian town of Kota Baru.
"We have contacted both the Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities as it is actually the borderline of Malaysian airspace and Vietnam," he told a press conference, adding there had been no indication the plane was in distress.
"The plane lost contact near Ca Mau province airspace as it was preparing to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control," an AFP report quoted a statement on the official Vietnamese government website as saying. Ca Mau province is in the southernmost part of Vietnam's inland territory.
Its signal never appeared to Ho Chi Minh City controllers. Vietnam's defence ministry has launched a search for the plane, the statement added.
Malaysian authorities also dispatched a plane, two helicopters and four vessels to search seas off its east coast in the South China Sea, Faridah Shuib, a spokesperson for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, was quoted by the same report as saying.
The Philippines said it was sending three navy patrol boats and a surveillance plane to help efforts.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday urged emergency measures over the missing flight, which was bound for Beijing with more than 150 Chinese nationals on board.
Xi ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Chinese embassies and consulates to strengthen contact with departments of relevant countries and pay close attention to the search and rescue work for the plane.
All-out efforts must be made for any emergency treatment necessary in the aftermath of the incident, Xi said in his instruction.
The Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Administration must launch emergency measures immediately and enhance security checks to ensure the "absolute safety" of China's civil aviation operation, according to the president.
Yang Chuantang, Chinese 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.
Eight ships belonging to the Nanhai Rescue Bureau and the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration are waiting for orders. An aircraft fleet is also ready to take off.
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