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A Malaysia Airlines aircraft at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Jan. 2013.
Goh Seng Chong—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Updated 10:35 PM ET

A Malaysia Airlines flight bound for Beijing lost contact with air traffic controllers early Saturday morning, prompting search and and rescue efforts to locate the plane.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur at 12:41 a.m. local time and was supposed to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m., but communications went dark at 2:40 a.m., the airlines said.

The plane carried 227 passengers and 12 crew members — among them 153 Chinese and 38 Malaysians, according to the airlines’ web site. Four of the passengers were listed as being from the United States.

“Our team is currently calling the next-of-kin of passengers and crew,” said Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, the CEO of Malaysia Airlines in a statement. “Focus of the airline is to work with the emergency responders and authorities and mobilize its full support.” He also added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected passengers and crew and their family members.”

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