Search on after Malaysia Airlines flight vanishes
A search is under way in waters between Malaysia and Vietnam after a Malaysia Airlines plane vanished on a flight to Beijing, with 239 people on board.
Malaysia Airlines said in a statement that flight MH370 had disappeared at 02:40 local time on Saturday (18:40 GMT on Friday) after leaving Kuala Lumpur.
It had been expected to land in Beijing at 06:30 (22:30 GMT).
Malaysia's transport minister said there was no information on wreckage and he urged against speculation.
"We are doing everything in our power to locate the plane. We are doing everything we can to ensure every possible angle has been addressed," Seri Hishammuddin told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
"Our hope is that the people understand we are being as transparent as we can, we are giving information as quickly as we can, but we want to make sure information has been verified."
Malaysia Airlines chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the focus was on helping the families of those missing. He said that 80% of the families had been contacted.
The plane went off the radar south of Vietnam, according to a statement on the Vietnamese government website.
Its last known location was off the country's Ca Mau peninsular although the exact position was not clear, it said.
The Boeing B777-200 aircraft was carrying 227 passengers, including two children, and 12 crew members.'Very worried'
The passengers were of 14 different nationalities, Mr Jauhari said.
Among them were 152 Chinese nationals, 38 Malaysians, 12 people from Indonesia and six from Australia.
The pilot was Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981, Mr Yahya said.
A Vietnamese navy official told the BBC the plane had gone missing within Malaysian maritime territory.
China has sent two ships to the South China Sea to help in any rescue, Chinese state television said.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is reported to have told government departments to "start the emergency procedures, strengthen communication with Malaysian Civil Aviation authorities, prepare search and rescue efforts", says the BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing.
The flight has now been removed from the international arrivals board at Beijing International Airport, our correspondent reports from the terminal. It had been listed as delayed for more than six hours after it was due.
Friends and relatives expecting to meet passengers from the flight have been instructed to go to a nearby hotel where officials are on hand to provide support, our correspondent adds.
The Associated Press reported a woman weeping on a shuttle bus who was heard to say on a mobile phone: "They want us to go to the hotel. It cannot be good."
"This news has made us all very worried," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.
"We hope every one of the passengers is safe. We are doing all we can to get more details."
Fuad Sharuji, Malaysian Airlines' vice-president of operations control, told CNN the plane had been flying at an altitude of 35,000ft (10,700m) and that the pilots had not reported any problems with the aircraft.
The airline is the national carrier of Malaysia and one of Asia's largest, flying nearly 37,000 passengers daily to some 80 destinations worldwide.
The route between Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has become more and more popular as Malaysia and China increase trade, says the BBC's Jennifer Pak in Kuala Lumpur.
The Boeing 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20-year history until an Asiana plane came down at San Francisco airport in July of last year. Three teenage girls from China died in that incident.
Boeing said in a statement posted on Twitter: "We're closely monitoring reports on Malaysia flight MH370. Our thoughts are with everyone on board."
At the scene
For more than six hours after it was due in, the flight was listed as delayed, but MH370 has now been removed from the international arrivals board.
Friends and relatives expecting to meet passengers from the flight have been instructed to go to a nearby hotel where officials are on hand to provide support and, when it comes, information.
The flight was a code share with China Southern Airlines CZ748 and more than 150 of the 227 passengers on board are Chinese Nationals. State media are reporting that two rescue boats have been sent into the South China Sea, from the ports of Haikou and Nansha, to assist with the search and rescue effort.
The weather along the route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was reportedly good and Malaysia Airlines, and the plane, a Boeing 777, both have good safety records.