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Malaysia Airlines 777 Missing over Vietnam

Malaysia Airlines 777 Missing over Vietnam

By David Reese. CREATED Mar 7, 2014

NEW YORK - NBC NEWS: A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 239 people lost contact with air traffic control and was missing hours after it was supposed to have landed in Beijing, the airline said Saturday morning.

The airline told NBC News that a search-and-rescue mission was under way for Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200, and that relatives of those on board were being notified.

The flight from Kuala Lumpur, carrying 227 passengers from 13 countries, including two infants, and 12 crew members, had been scheduled to land at 6:30 a.m. in Beijing (5:30 p.m. ET Friday). But Subang Air Traffic Control in Malaysia reported that it lost contact at 2:40 a.m. (1:40 p.m. ET Friday).

At that time in its flight plan, the plane would have been over Vietnamese airspace.

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua said the plane never entered Chinese airspace. It said 160 of the passengers were Chinese.

The U.S. State Department said it had no information om whether any Americans were on board.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," the airline said.

Boeing told CNBC it was aware of the report and was monitoring the situation.

The 777-200 is considered one of the safest aircraft in the world. U.S. aviation records show fewer than 60 incidents, most of them minor, since it made its debut in 1995.

The jet's fire-resistant interior and strong seats were credited with limiting casualties in July when another 777-200, this one operated by Asiana Airlines, crashed at the San Francisco airport. Only two of the 307 people aboard were killed.

Catherine Chomiak and Sossy Dombourian of NBC News contributed to this report.