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5 Indians on Malaysia Airlines Boeing missing over South China Sea

Beijing/Kuala Lumpur, Mar 8 (PTI): A Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines plane that went missing with 239 people on board, including five Indians, crashed into the sea off Vietnam's southern Phu Quoc Island, Vietnamese media reported.

The Boeing 777-200 Flight MH370 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board crashed 250km off the coast of Tho Chu island, Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) quoted Rear Admiral Ngo Van Phat, political commissar of the Fifth Naval Region of Vietnam, as saying.

A fresh passengers' list issued by the airline said five Indians were among the 239 passengers on board the aircraft, correcting its previous account in which Indians were not mentioned.

“At the moment, there are no Vietnamese navy boats in that area so we have to ask boats from Phu Quoc island to be prepared for rescue,” the admiral said.

However, other agencies said Malaysia’s transport minister later denied that any crash scene had been identified.

"We are doing everything we can to ensure every possible angle has been addressed," Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein told reporters near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

From the report it was not clear how the admiral knew about the crash or whether the wreckage of the ill-fated plane has been located.

There is no confirmation about the report from the Malaysian authorities.

Chinese media is reporting the plane may have crashed into the South China Sea, state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The plane took off at 12:41am (local time) and lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control near Kuala Lumpur almost two hours later at 2:40am, the airlines said.

The fresh list of passengers issued by the airline mentions people of 14 nationalities including Indians.

The plane disappeared in the night somewhere over South China Sea while enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

”Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support,” the Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya earlier said.

He said the pilot of the missing aircraft, identified as Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had 18365 hours of experience and joined the airline in 1981.

Those on board include 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, 5 Indians, 7 Indonesians, 6 Australians, 3 French, 4 including an infant from the US, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Ukrainians, 2 Canadians, 1 each from Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Netherlands and Austria.

Malaysia Airlines is currently working with the authorities, who have activated their Search and Rescue team to locate the aircraft, Jauhari said.

”Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” he added.