A boy looks at a Malaysian Airlines plane from the viewing gallery of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, in this January 8, 2002 file picture. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad/Files
The ill-fated Malaysian Airlines plane is still missing, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday. He quoted the confirmation from the Vietnamese Navy that it has not yet located the wreckage of the jet in its territorial waters to belie a previous report that the plane crashed into the South China Sea.
However, a Vietnamese government statement said it spotted oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam between 10 kilometres and 15 kilometres long. The slicks are consistent with fuel from a crashed plane.
He said it is too early to make any conclusions about the missing plane as search operations for the missing plane in the area between Malaysia and Vietnam's southern coast further intensifies.
The report of the plane being located was triggered by relatives allegedly being told to go to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport before 7 pm of Saturday with valid passports to travel to the crash site. Vietnamese Navy Admiral Ngo Van Phat, commander of the Region 5, was also quoted as saying that the military radar recorded the jet crashed into the sea at the location 153 miles south of the Phy Quoc island.
Journalists wait in a conference room for a news conference regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, at a hotel in Beijing March 8, 2014. The Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing lost contact with air traffic controllers early on Saturday, the airline said in a statement, the plane likely missing in Vietnamese airspace. Flight MH370, operating a Boeing B777-200 aircraft left Kuala Lumpur at 12.21 a.m. (1621 GMT Friday) and had been expected to land in the Chinese capital at 6.30 a.m. (2230 GMT) the same day. REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER TRANSPORT MEDIA) March 7, 2014
But Malaysian Airlines neither denied nor confirmed the report. MAS Flight 370 has 230 people, including its crew. The jet disappeared in the early hours of Saturday on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
Reports said that there was no bad weather along the route and the jet had enough fuel to fly for two more hours over its scheduled flight time. Its captain, employed with MAS for 33 years, had 18,365 hours flight experience, while the co-pilot had 2,700 hours in the cockpit.
Prior to MAS Flight 370, the only fatal accident involving a Boeing 777 was an Asiana Airlines flight that crash in San Francisco in 2013.