Anxious Beijingers both local and foreign spent most of Saturday awaiting news of the lost Malaysia Airlines red-eye flight that was due to land at T3 this morning at 6:30am but never arrived.
The plane lost contact with ground radar about two hours after take-off from Kuala Lumpur, and as of 5:30pm Beijing time had not been located, according to news reports. Last contact was made somewhere over the sea south of Vietnam two hours after the plane’s 12:30am takeoff, and that area is being targeted by search teams from China, Malaysia and Vietnam.
A total of 239 passengers are crew are on board MH 370, including 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 6 Australians, 4 French, 3 Americans, 7 Indonesians, 5 Indians, 2 Ukranians, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Canadians, and one passenger each from Russia, Italy, the Netherlands and Austria. The large number of both Chinese and international passengers has sent shockwaves across the city and caused social media in Chinese and English to be filled with both news and rumor.
China Central Television (CCTV) posted what it said was a passenger list to its Weibo account (the list has seen been removed). The authenticity of the list could not be independently verified and was not published on Malaysia Airlines’ website.
Concerned relatives and friends in Beijing have been routed from the airport to the Metropark Lido Hotel to await news. More details for concerned relatives are available on the Malaysia Airlines site here. Meanwhile, the airline’s “go team," described as a team of caregivers and volunteers to assist the family members of the passengers, was en route to Beijing as of 4:30pm.
At 2:30pm, Malaysia Airlines issued the following updated statement:
We regret to announce that Subang Traffic Control lost contact with flight MH370 at 2:40 am today.
We are currently working with international authorities on the search and rescue mission and as at 1400 hours, 08 March 2014, we have no information on the location of the aircraft.
MH370 is a Boeing 777-200 aircraft on a code share with China Southern Airlines. It departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am today for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30am local Beijing time. The flight had a total number of 227 passengers and 12 crew members. The passengers were from 14 different countries, most of whom are from China.
Our team is currently calling family members of passengers to keep them updated on the situation and our focus now is to work with the emergency responders and the authorities. We are sending a MH team to support the families of passengers at Beijing. The airline will continue to publish regular updates on the situation.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all passengers, our crew and their family members.
"We are extremely worried," said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The news is very disturbing. We hope everyone on the plane is safe."
Families and colleagues of flight MH 370 passengers were being accommodated at hotels near the airport. UK newspaper The Guardian is maintaining a live blog with updates the flight’s status. Locally, China Daily is live updating news on the flight here.
The Beijinger (beijingkids) will update on the flight’s status as details become available.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger on March 8, 2014.