KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 carrying 239 people lost contact with international aviation authorities over the South China Sea early Saturday morning on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and still hadn't been located several hours later.

The plane lost communication two hours into the flight in Vietnam's airspace at 1:20 a.m., China's official Xinhua News Agency said. Vietnamese website VN Express said a Vietnamese search and rescue official reported that signals from the plane were detected about 140 miles southwest of Vietnam's southernmost Ca Mau province.

Malaysia Airlines said it was working with authorities who activated their search and rescue teams to locate the aircraft. The route would take the aircraft from Malaysia across to Vietnam and China.

"Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew. Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support," Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members," he added.

All countries in the possible flight path of the missing aircraft were performing a "communications and radio search," said John Andrews, deputy chief of the Philippines' civil aviation agency.

Fuad Sharuji, Malaysia Airlines' vice president of operations control, told CNN that the plane was flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet and that the pilots had reported no problem with the aircraft. He said the aircraft's last communication was over the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.


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Flight MH370 departed Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. Saturday and had been expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Malaysia Airlines said.

The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, the airline said. Passengers were from 14 countries, including 153 from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven Australians and four Americans.

The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20-year history until the Asiana crash in San Francisco in July 2013. All 16 crew members survived, but three of the 291 passengers, all teenage girls from China, were killed.

Malaysia Airlines' last fatal incident was in 1995, when one its planes crashed near the Malaysian city of Tawau, killing 34 people.

The state-owned Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes.