Missing Malaysia airplane 'might have turned back'

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Malaysian Airlines` Boeing 777-200 that went missing on way to Beijing may have turned back from its route, Malaysian air force commander says

Malaysian Airlines` Boeing 777-200 that went missing on way to Beijing may have turned back from its route, Malaysian air force commander says

KUALA LUMPUR - A Malaysian airliner that went missing en route to Beijing on Friday might have turned back from its flight path, a Malaysian air force commander said Sunday.

Rodzali Daud said information from military radar suggested an attempt to return. But he gave no details on how far the Boeing 777-200, from the Malaysian Airlines fleet with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, might have strayed from its planned route.

Malaysian Airlines said air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane at 18:40 GMT on Friday. It issued no distress call before going missing.

A United States Navy destroyer and reconnaissance plane have joined the search efforts.

On Saturday, Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks over the South China Sea. The two oil slicks, around 15 to 20 kilometers long, are believed to be a clue to the disappearance of the aircraft.

An official list of passengers released by the airline identified 15 nationalities on board: It included 154 people from China and Taiwan, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India, four from the U.S., three from France, two each from Ukraine, New Zealand and Canada, and one each from Italy, Russia, the Netherlands and Austria. However, it was revealed later that the Italian and Austrian passengers on the official manifest did not board the flight, as their passports had been stolen earlier.

According to the Vietnamese government website, the plane`s last known location was over the Ca Mau peninsula, south of Vietnam.

Relatives of the passengers are enduring a tense wait at Beijing Capital International Airport.

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