A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 scheduled for a red-eye flight between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Beijing, China has disappeared over Southeast Asia. Air traffic controllers lost communication with the airplane soon after its departure from Kuala Lumpur, and reportedly somewhere over Vietnamese airspace. Prior to its disappearance, the flight did not signal any distress or signs of bad weather.
Officials are now scouring area over which Flight MH370 was scheduled to travel, but most reports say they are not optimistic. Reports have come in that search crews have spotted some “rubbish” and liquid in the ocean in the search area, and are investigating to see if this is related to the missing airplane.
CNN reports that if Flight MH370 crashed while claiming all lives on-board, it would be the deadliest airplane accident since November 2001.
Flight MH370 was carrying 227 passengers, reportedly spanning 14 nationalities. 154 of the missing passengers are Chinese or Taiwanese nationals, and 3 Americans were also reportedly on-board. Although passenger manifests also list an Italian and an Austrian passenger, governments of both countries report that the listed passenger is safe and that their passports had been stolen.
My thoughts and prayers go out to all the missing passengers and crew. Please stay tuned to this post for updates. Family seeking more information are being asked to call +603 7884 1234.
(This post is being continuously updated with further developments.)
Update I (4pm EST 3/8/2014): Two oil slicks, one 6 miles long and another 9 miles long have been spotted by search crews in the ocean between Malaysia and Vietnam. Investigators are focusing their search in this area.
And, thankfully, I received word that my immediate family, which lives in Asia, were not on the flight. Again, my prayers continue to go out to everyone whose friends and family are missing.
Update II (3/9/2014): The initial spotting of “rubbish” by a US-based search crew has shown to be mistaken. However a second “floating object” is not being investigated. A lot of folks online are speculating that the two forged passports are related to the plane going down, particularly due to the recent report that both tickets were purchased together; I would urge everyone to tamp down on the rumours. This kind of speculation is both not useful to the family of the missing, and also jumps to a pretty major conclusion: a more mundane explanation could be related to illegal migration or immigration, which is happens far more frequently than terrorist attacks.
Either way, we should be focusing on finding the missing passengers, not on irresponsible speculation.
Update III (3/10/2014): The oil slicks pictured above have been found to be unrelated to the missing airplane. Search crews are now widening their search area.
Update IV (3/12/2014): I wrote yesterday about the frustrating conflation of the word “Iranian” with the word “terrorist” in mainstream news coverage of this story. As of a few minutes ago, CNN headlines currently report that a Chinese satellite may have detected a crash site at sea. No further details available yet.