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Malaysia Airlines says plane with 239 people on board missing

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Malaysia's air force chief says that military radar indicated the missing Boeing 777 jet may have turned back, but declined to give further details on how far the plane may have veered off course.

Rodzali Daud told a press conference Sunday that "there is a possible indication that the aircraft made a turnback," adding that authorities were "trying to make sense of that.

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the pilot is supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if he does return, but that officials had received no such distress call.

The plane vanished from screens early Saturday morning en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.

Meanwhile, Malaysian aviation authorities are investigating how two passengers were apparently able to get on the aircraft using stolen passports.

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The Navy says it has dispatched a warship to aid in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner.

The USS Pinckney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is on its way from international waters in the South China Sea to the southern coast of Vietnam to assist in the search for flight MH370. The Boeing 777 with 239 people aboard was flying to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it fell off radar screens early Saturday.

The Pinckney carries two helicopters that can be used for search and rescue. It is expected to reach the search area within 24 hours.

Additionally, the Navy is deploying an Orion patrol and surveillance plane based in Okinawa. It will bring long-range search, radar and communications capabilities to the search mission.

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Vietnamese air force planes have spotted two large oil slicks that authorities suspect are from a Malaysian jetliner that went missing early Saturday.

A Vietnamese government statement says the slicks were spotted off the southern tip of Vietnam. The slicks were each between 10 kilometers (6 miles) and 15 kilometers (9 miles) long.

The statement said the slicks were consistent with the kinds that would be left by fuel from a crashed jetliner.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 disappeared from radar screens with 239 people on board en route to Beijing.
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The State Department confirms that three Americans were aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished Saturday.

The department says in a statement that officials from the U.S. Embassies in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Beijing are in contact with families of the passengers. The department says it's working to determine if other U.S. citizens may have been on the flight.

No additional information was released.

The aircraft went missing early Saturday on a flight from Malaysia to Beijing. Vietnamese air force planes report spotting a pair of large oil slicks in the area where the Boeing 777 went missing.

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The CEO of Malaysia Airlines says there is no indication that the pilots sent a distress signal before their Beijing-bound Boeing 777 disappeared from air traffic control screens over waters between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Search and rescue crews across Southeast Asia are scrambling to find the plane that carried 239 people.

China's Xinhua News Agency, citing a local Vietnamese media report, says a Vietnamese search and rescue official reported that the last signals had been detected from the plane from about 220 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Vietnam's southernmost coastal province of Ca Mau. But there was no contact with Vietnamese controllers.

-----Friday, March 8th, 2014-----

Search and rescue teams are looking for a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet with 239 people aboard.

The airline says it lost contact with a plane. It took off from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

According to China's state news agency, the plane lost communication over Vietnam with a control department in Ho Chi Minh City at 1:20 a.m. Xinhua reported the radar signal for the Boeing 777-200 also was lost.

Malaysia Airlines says the plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members.

The airline says it's working with authorities who activated their search and rescue teams to locate the aircraft. The route would take it from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China.

At Beijing's airport, worried relatives and friends of passengers have been asked to gather at a hotel about a 30 minute drive from the airport to wait for further information. Airport authorities have provided shuttle bus service.

The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20 year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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