KUALA LUMPUR, March 9

The country continues to wait, pray and hope.

With 40 hours gone since Malaysian Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 vanished without a trace, the fate of the 239 people on board remains unknown.

Speculation remains rife, especially on the Internet, encouraged possibly by the conflicting reports about the incident.

Two passengers on list not on board

Flight MH370 was scheduled to land in Beijing, China, at 6.30am yesterday after it took off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41am.

Tower, however, lost contact with the flight about 120 nautical miles off Kota Baru, Kelantan.

The aircraft’s last known coordinates were 065515N and 1833443E.

MAS later confirmed that the 11-year-old plane was carrying 38 Malaysians, 152 Chinese nationals plus an infant, 12 Indonesians and 7 Australians.

Other nationalities on board were from France (3), US (3 plus one infant), New Zealand (2), Ukraine (2), Canada (2) and a Russian, as well as one Italian and one Austrian.

However, it later emerged that 2 people listed as passengers on the flight were not on board, according to Austrian and Italian officials.

Plane found, plane not found

At 11.40am, Vietnam Air Traffic Controller was reported to have received a distress signal from a plane. However, the claims were later dismissed.

Rumours later spread that the plane had made an emergency landing in Nanning, China, although that report, too, was later denied.

A Vietnamese admiral was also reported by leading Vietnam daily Tuoi Tre to have claimed that the plane had crashed, but he later denied issuing such a statement.

Late last night, the New York Times reported that a 12-mile-long oil slick was spotted between Malaysia and Vietnam and could be the first sign of missing flight MH370.

The Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) later denied the oil slick was related to the missing aircraft.

According to The Aviation Herald’s website, based on the radar data, the aircraft was last seen about half-way between Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) over the Gulf of Thailand, 40 minutes into the flight.

Anomalies appeared in the radar data of the aircraft over the next minute.

The website cited aviation sources in China that reported the radar data “suggested a steep and sudden descent of the aircraft, during which the track of the aircraft changed from 024 degrees to 333 degrees. The aircraft was estimated to contact Ho Chi Minh Control Center (Vietnam), but contact was never established”.

The world reacts

With the hashtag #MH370 and #PrayForMH370 trending worldwide on Twitter, messages of prayer and hope continue to flood the Internet from all around the world.

Although chances of survival at this rate are looking bleak, the world joins hand in continuing to pray for the safety of the passengers and crew members of MAS flight MH370.