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5 Indians among 239 on board crashed Malaysian plane

Last updated on: March 08, 2014 20:53 IST

5 Indians among 239 on board crashed Malaysian plane

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A Beijing-bound Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people, including 5 Indians, on board was presumed to have crashed on Saturday and the worst is feared as two large oil slicks have been spotted off Vietnam's sea coast where the plane went missing.

The Boeing 777-200 Flight MH370 with 227 passengers, including two infants, from 14 different countries and 12 crew members disappeared last night at 0240 local time (23:10 IST).

Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks off the southern tip of Vietnam that authorities suspect are from the missing plane, a Vietnamese government statement said.

The slicks were each between 10 km and 15 km long. The statement said the slicks were consistent with the kinds that would be left by fuel from a crashed plane.

Earlier, the carrier in a statement, said, "The sea mission will continue while the air mission will recommence at daylight."

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Image: A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries, surrounded by journalists, at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing
Photographs: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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The five Indians, including three from one family, on board were identified as Chetna Kolekar, 55, Swanand Kolekar, 23, Vinod Kolekar, 59, Chandrika Sharma, 51, and Kranti Shirsatha, 44.

Chennai-based Sharma had taken the flight from Kuala Lumpur on her way to Mongolia to participate in a Food and Agriculture Organisation organised conference.

She was to represent her organisation "International Collective In Support of Fishworkers", where she works as an Executive Secretary.

One Indian-origin Canadian Muktesh Mukherjee, 42, was also on board.

Malaysia Airlines said the last point of contact with the plane was approximately 120 nautical miles east of Kota Baru in South China Sea.

"We have contacted both the Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities as it is actually the borderline of Malaysian airspace and Vietnam control," Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the airlines group's chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

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Image: A relative of a passenger onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she talks on her mobile phone
Photographs: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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5 Indians among 239 on board crashed Malaysian plane

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Earlier, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak declared that the area of search for the plane will be expanded from the point of its last contact.

Najib said more logistical support had been put into operation, including 15 armed forces aircraft and the Navy and Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency dispatching six and three of their ships respectively.

Najib said the Vietnamese, Chinese, Singapore and American governments were helping out with the search operations.

"We are looking at all possibilities and it is too early to speculate on what happened," he said.

The list of passengers on board comprised 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four Americans, three French, two New Zealanders, two Ukrainians, two Canadians, one Russian, one Italian, one Dutch and one Austrian.

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Image: A woman, whose husband is a passenger of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, complains about Malaysia Airlines to journalists as she attempts to leave a hotel in Beijing
Photographs: Jason Lee/Reuters

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5 Indians among 239 on board crashed Malaysian plane

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Singapore has deployed a Charlie C130 aircraft to help out in the mission.

"MAS will make arrangement for family members who want to travel to Beijing," Najib said.

Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that the country has sent a C130 aircraft, 75 helicopters and several naval ships to search for the plane.

Earlier, Vietnamese newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) quoted RearAdmiral Ngo Van Phat, political commissar of the Fifth Naval Region of Vietnam, as saying that the plane had crashed.

However, Hussein said he had "no information" or confirmation on the plane's fate.

"We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane," he said.

Najib said he had spoken to Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who had assured all assistance.

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Image: Journalists attempt to interview a woman who is the relative of a passenger on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
Photographs: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
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Civil Aviation Department (DCA) Director-General Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said the pilot had contacted the Subang air traffic controller before the plane entered the Vietnam airspace.

"This is a usual procedure, where traffic controllers would contact pilots before entering the following country's airspace," he said.

Yang Chuantang, Chinese Minister of Transport (MOT), announced the launch of the "highest-degree" emergency response mechanism, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Yahya said the pilot of the missing aircraft, identified as Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had 18,365 hours of experience and joined the airlines in 1981.

Confusion and chaos prevailed in Beijing where the planed was due to land at 6:30 am (local time).

The relatives of 154 Chinese passengers travelling by the plane became restless and irritated with the airline as it was unable to confirm reports of its crash.

After hours of waiting, a spokesperson of the airline briefly addressed the media but could not provide any details.

Cries and tears gripped the hotel conference room. A young woman wept aloud as a female friend hugged her. An elderly mother cried with anguish over the unknown fate of her 40-year-old son. Many grief-stricken relatives even fainted.

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Image: A man takes pictures of a flight information board displaying the Scheduled Time of Arrival of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 (top, in red) at the Beijing Capital International Airport
Photographs: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

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