Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 vanishes over South China Sea

Malaysia Airlines on Saturday said it lost contact with a plane carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Flight MH370 vanished at 18:40 GMT on Friday after leaving Kuala Lumpur for Beijing, where it was expected at 22:30 GMT.

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft reportedly went off the radar south of Vietnam.

Its last known location was off the Ca Mau peninsula although the exact position was not clear.

Planes and ships from Southeast Asian states have joined the search the South China Sea for the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Malaysia's military said it has despatched another batch of helicopters and ships after an initial search revealed nothing.

The US has agreed to help with its aircraft too, Malaysian Prime Minister Najb Razak said.

"An international search and rescue mission was mobilized this morning. At this stage, our search and rescue teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam have failed to find evidence of any wreckage", the airlines said in statement.

"The sea mission will continue while the air mission will recommence at daylight," it added.

While no wreckage has been found, Vietnamese planes reported seeing oil slicks in the sea.

The Vietnamese government said two slicks, about 15km (9 miles) long, were consistent with those that could be left by an airliner and had been detected off southern Vietnam.

However, there is no confirmation the slicks relate to the missing plane.

"We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane," Malaysian transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the focus was on helping the families of those missing.

He said 80 per cent of the families had been contacted. Distraught relatives and friends of those aboard are being given assistance at the airports, he said.

While a majority of the passengers are of Chinese origin, the flight also had five Indian passengers.

The relatives and friends waiting to meet passengers from flight MH370 have been taken to the Lido Hotel, a short drive from Beijing Airport's Terminal Three.

Volunteers are providing them with support.

But there is obvious anger because of the lack of information from the airline.