Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Update: Oil Slick Found, Search and Rescue to Continue

By Paul Riegler on 8 March 2014
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The missing Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER at Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2011

The missing Malaysia Airlines 777-200ER at Charles de Gaulle Airport in 2011

Officials in Vietnam reported a 12-mile or 20-kilometer-long oil slick that could be the first sign that the missing Malaysia Airlines jet went down in the sea between southernmost Vietnam and northern Malaysia.

Malaysia Airlines said it lost contact with flight MH370 two hours after the aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur.  The aircraft that is missing is a Boeing 777-200ER.

The oil slick “is suspected of being a crashed Boeing aircraft,” Lai Xuan Thanh, the director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, told reporters there.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that an extensive search and rescue mission is underway. “We are grateful for the support in this effort from around the world,” he said in a statement.  Until sundown, 15 aircraft and nine ships were involved in a search and rescue mission for the missing plane.  “Our priority now is to widen the search area and provide support to relatives of those missing.”

The search and rescue operation by sea, which is being conducted by Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, China, and the U.S., is continuing overnight, while the air search was suspended and will resume at daylight on Sunday

The disappearance of the aircraft has airline officials and others mystified.  The Boeing 777-200 had more than enough fuel to fly for two additional hours after its scheduled arrival time, and there were no reports of bad weather along the route.

Earlier on Saturday, Malaysia Airlines’ CEO, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, said in a statement that there had been speculation that the plane might have been able to land somewhere en route to Beijing, adding that the airline was investigating this.

The crash, if it indeed turns out to be a crash, would be only the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 777. The other was the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco last year.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 departed from Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, and was originally scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m.

(Photo: Laurent Errera)

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