The Malaysian Airlines flight mysteriously lost contact with air traffic controllers two hours after leaving Kuala Lumpur last night.
This is the tragic moment Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 carrying 239 people ‘disappeared’ over the South China Sea.
The passenger jet left Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur at 12.41am local time on Saturday and was due to land in Beijing, China, at 6.05am the same day.
But communication was lost as the flight was crossing the South China Sea towards Vietnam.
The jet was being monitored by flight tracking website flightradar24.com which shows the plane’s progress before it vanished.
The website claims this was 40 minutes after the flight took off, not two hours as has been widely reported.
Vietnamese navy officials had been quoted as saying the plane had ‘crashed into the sea’ – but this has since been denied.
Desperate searches are now underway to try and find the missing jet.
The Boeing 777-200 jet’s passengers on the 2,746-mile journey included two infants and 12 crew members.
There were 14 different nationalities on board.
Malaysian Airways confirmed the plane had lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2.40am (SAT) local time – or 6.40pm (FRI) around 120 miles off the mainland.
The airline said in a statement: “Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft.
“The airline will provide regular updates on the situation.”
A weather map of the area where the plane was last reported did not show any storm activity.
The plane did not enter Chinese air space before disappearing.
Officials say there were 160 Chinese nationals on board and state TV reported that China had dispatched two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help the search effort.