Oil Slicks Spotted; 239 Feared Dead in Jet Crash

Vietnam planes see them in water, but no wreckage yet; 239 people feared dead

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 7, 2014 8:24 PM CST | Updated Mar 8, 2014 7:33 AM CST

(Newser) – Hope is fading for the 239 people aboard a Malaysia Airlines jet that vanished yesterday. Chinese media say the plane crashed off the south coast of Vietnam about 1:40pm ET as it traveled from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, reports CNN and Reuters. But no official confirmation about the fate of the Boeing 777-200 has been announced. Meanwhile, Vietnamese air force planes have spotted two large oil slicks in the water, the first tangible signs of a possible crash, reports AP. The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members. Most (about 150) were from either China or Taiwan, and three were Americans, says the airline.

The LA Times says the Americans are Philip Tallmadge Wood, 50; Nicole Meng, 3; and infant Leo Meng. Wood is thought to be an IBM employee who worked for years in Beijing before shifting to Kuala Lumpur. "Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew," said airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya in a statement. "Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support." The Boeing 777 class of plane suffered the first fatal crash in its 20-year history last year when an Asiana Airlines jet went down in San Francisco, killing three.

A woman wipes her tears at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.   (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
File photo of a Malaysia Airlines jet.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Staff members of Malaysian Airlines' office try to chase out journalists gathering outside the office in Beijing's International Airport.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Malaysian Airlines Group Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahyain speaks during a press conference at a hotel in Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.   (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
The arrival board at the International Airport in Beijing shows a Malaysian airliner is delayed.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
File photo of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.   (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
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