What to know about the disappearance of the Malaysian jetliner

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 carrying 227 passengers and 12 crewmembers vanished without warning after leaving Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing early Saturday morning. Here is what we know so far:

No distress signal

Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact with flight MH370 on Saturday at 2:40 a.m. local time (1:40 p.m. Friday ET), about 2½ hours after taking off, according to Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Juahari Yahya and a statement by the airline. The plane's location remains a mystery, and Malaysia Airlines said there was no indication that the pilots sent a distress signal.

Search and rescue

No wreckage has been spotted yet, and the U.S. military has joined the multinational search effort, sending the USS Pinckney, a destroyer in the Navy's 7th Fleet, to the southern coast of Vietnam. A P-3C Orion aircraft from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa will also join the search. Malaysia has sent two helicopters, a plane and four ships to waters between Malaysia and Vietnam, according to the AFP news agency. The Philippine military dispatched three ships and a surveillance plane, it said. China has sent two ships to aid the effort.

Oil slicks spotted

The biggest clues so far are oil slicks that Vietnamese air force planes spotted between Malaysia and Vietnam. The two slicks, each between 6 and 9 miles long, were seen 77 miles south of the island of Tho Chu in the Gulf of Thailand, located off the southern tip of Vietnam. Rescuers believe the slicks are consistent with those expected to be left from a crashed jetliner, the Vietnamese government reported on its website.

Two listed on missing jet had passports stolen

Two passengers on the flight manifest weren't on board the plane, according to foreign ministry officials in Italy and Austria.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said no Italian citizen was on the flight. The Austrian Foreign Ministry said one of its citizens on the passenger list was safe and sound, adding that his passport had been stolen.

Americans on board

The nationalities of those aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight include three from the United States, including one infant. On Saturday, the Americans on board were named on a passenger manifest as Nicole Meng, 4; Philip Wood, 51; and Yan Zhang, 2. The State Department confirmed three Americans were on board the flight, and said officials from the U.S. embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Beijing are in contact with their families.

Weather does not appear to be a factor

There were no reports of rough weather or other signs of trouble at the time of the commercial airline's disappearance. At the time of the flight, some light rain and snow was in the area, AccuWeather Meteorologist Alan Reppert said. Reppert said there was some light precipitation over South and Central China, but any precipitation that would have formed would have been well below the flight level at around 15,000 feet.

Experienced crew

Information provided by Malaysia Airlines shows the crew in the cockpit were very experienced: The flight was piloted by Capt. Zaharie Ahman Shah, 53, of Malaysia. He has 18,365 flying hours and joined the airlines in 1981. The first officer is listed as Fariq Ab.Hamid, 27, of Malaysia. He joined the airline in 2007 and has 2,763 total flight hours.

Boeing 777's safety record

Experts cite the plane's strong safety record. Since it was introduced in 1995, the Boeing 777 has been involved in only two other major accidents and three hijackings, records show.


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