Malaysia says it has no information that missing Malaysia Airlines plane has crashed

SEPANG, Malaysia - Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said on Saturday they have no confirmation that a missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) plane carrying 239 people had been found in Vietnam waters as reported earlier by some media.

He said information obtained by Malaysia's Foreign Ministry and Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) indicated that the report was not true.

However, he said since the Vietnam media quoted the Vietnamese Navy that the plane had been located, he had asked the Malaysian Navy to contact their counterparts for further information.

According to reports quoting Tuoi Tre, a leading daily in Vietnam, the Vietnamese Navy has confirmed the plane crashed into the ocean. According to Navy Admiral Ngo Van Phat, Commander of the Region 5, military radar recorded that the plane crashed into the sea at a location 153 miles south of Phu Quoc island.

Mr Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, said there was no information of any terrorism but the authorities were checking every lead. It was also not true that the plane had landed in Nanning in China, he added, referring to online rumours.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40am on Saturday after departing Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am. It was due to land in Beijing at 6.30am on the same day.

MAS said the plane, which had enough fuel to fly up to 8.30am, did not issue a distress signal. There was also no report of bad weather when the plane disappeared.

According to the DCA chief Azaruddin Abdul Rahman, the Malaysian air traffic control had just handed over control to the Vietnamese authorities when they lost contact with the plane.

The flight was carrying a total number of 239 passengers and crew - comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants), 12 crew members.

There were 15 nationalities on board, the majority Chinese nationals and Malaysians. No Singaporeans were on board.

The last reported position was approximately 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru, in the South China Sea, in the airspace bordering Vietnam. The search and rescue is being carried out in the area, with the Vietnamese authorities.

Mr Hishammuddin said the Malaysian Armed Forces and Coast Guard were taking part in the search and rescue operations.

They are focusing on the area where they lost contact with the plane.

Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, a codeshare with China Southern Airlines. The plane was 11 years 10 months old. There are no plans to ground any planes unless with the recommendation of the manufacturer, said MAS.

The flight was piloted by Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a Malaysian aged 53. He has a total flying hours of 18,365 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981.

First officer, Fariq Ab.Hamid, is a Malaysian, aged 27. He has a total flying hours of 2,763 hours. He joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.