A Malaysia Airlines plane that lost contact with radio control has crashed into the ocean off the coast of Vietnam, media outlets in Vietnam have reported.
The leading daily newspaper in Vietnam, Tuoi Tre, has reported that the Vietnamese Navy confirmed the plane crashed into the ocean approximately 153 miles south of Phu Quoc island. Al Jazeera has also reported that China is sending two rescue ships to the area to find the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
The airline said that flight MH370 lost contact at 2:40 am local time (18:40 GMT), two hours after it left Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Contact was lost over Vietnamese airspace during the plane’s flight to Beijing, China.
“The plane lost contact in Ca Mau province airspace before it had entered contact with Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control,” a statement posted on the official Vietnamese government website noted.
The Malaysia Airlines plane had 239 passengers and crew on board from 14 different nations, including people from Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Australia, France, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Ukraine. There were also two infants among the passengers.
Even before reports surfaced that the Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into the ocean, experts worried for the fate of the passengers.
“The lack of communications suggests to me that something most unfortunate has happened,” Mary Schiavo, former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation, told CNN International. “But that, of course, does not mean that there are not many persons that need to be rescued and secured. There’s still a very urgent need to find that plane and to render aid.”
Officials from Malaysia Airlines did not confirm or deny reports that the aircraft was located in the ocean, though Malaysian authorities have worked closely with Vietnamese officials to find the Malaysia Airlines plane.