A Western Pennsylvania woman is believed to be among the passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.
Mei Ling Chng, a process engineer at the Eastman Chemical's subsidiary Flexsys America plant in Monongahela, was listed as a passenger on Flight MH370 that went missing early Saturday morning between Malaysia and Vietnam, the Eastman Chemical Company confirmed to NBC10.com.
"All of us at Eastman are deeply shocked and saddened by this, and our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families of those on the flight and especially to the family of our friend and co-worker," Eastman spokeswoman Tracy Kilgore said in a statement released to NBC10.
WPXI reported Chng lived in South Park in Allegheny County and had worked at the Eastman plant since 2005.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Chng’s uncle Koon Chim Wa said his niece was headed back to the United States when the plane went missing.
The plane was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, Malaysia Airlines said. The airline said there were 152 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India, three from the U.S., and others from Indonesia, France, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.
The jet's disappearance was especially mysterious because it apparently happened when the plane was at cruising altitude, not during the more dangerous phases of takeoff or landing.
Just 9 percent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude, according to a statistical summary of commercial jet accidents done by Boeing.
Malaysia Airlines CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said there was no indication the pilots had sent a distress signal. That might mean that whatever trouble befell the plane happened so fast the crew did not have time to broadcast even a quick mayday.
The lack of a radio call "suggests something very sudden and very violent happened," said William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.
The plane was last inspected 10 days ago and found to be "in proper condition," Ignatius Ong, CEO of Malaysia Airlines subsidiary Firefly airlines, said at a news conference.