Vietnamese searchers have reported sighting oil slick believed to be from the missing plane
A Malaysian airline which disappeared with 239 people on board, on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Friday, is presumed to have crashed.
The 11-year-old- Boeing 777-200ER vanished from radar screens about an hour after take-off. The plane took off at 12:40 a.m. (1640 GMT Friday).
A massive search has been ongoing, mounted by Malaysia, Vietnam, China and Philippines, but there has been no trace of the missing airline.
Vietnamese searchers reported seeing a 15 kilometre of oil slick and a column of smoke off its coast, but it was not clear whether it was linked to the missing plane.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said 15 air force aircraft, six navy ships and three coast guard vessels had been dispatched to help with the operation. “The search and rescue operations will continue as long as necessary,” he said.
Vietnam sent out two navy boats from Phu Quoc island and sent two jets and one helicopter from Ho Chi Minh City to search for the missing airliner. It was preparing to add seven planes and nine boats to join the search effort, Reuters news agency reported.
China and the Philippines have also sent ships to the region to help. The United States and Singapore also dispatched military planes.
China has also put other ships and aircraft on standby, said Transport Minister Yang Chuantang.
The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers, including two children, and 12 crew members.
The passengers were of 14 different nationalities, among them were 153 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, seven people from Indonesia and six from Australia.
There were reports at least two passengers travelled on stolen passports.
Two names-one Italian and one Austrian- listed as passengers, were said to be safe in their countries but that their passports were stolen while they were traveling two years ago in Thailand.
Search and rescue vessels from the Malaysian maritime enforcement agency reached the area where the plane last made contact at about 4:30 p.m. local time (0830 GMT) but saw no sign of wreckage, a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency was quoted by Reuters as saying.