The Philippines deployed three navy ships and two planes to the West Philippine Sea on Saturday to search for a Malaysia Airlines plane that was reported missing, the military said.

The Armed Forces’ Western Command (Wescom) sent the recently-acquired Hamilton-class cutter BRP Gregorio del Pilar, BRP Emilio Jacinto, BRP Apolinario Mabini, a Fokker plane, and an Islander plane to scour the sea, Wescom spokesperson Lt. Cherryl Tindog said by phone.

Military units in the disputed Kalayaan (Spratly) island group were also “alerted” to report any sighting of the missing plane, Tindog said.

The Wescom has detachments in nine islands, shoals, and a reef in the Kalayaan group.

“We have not received reports of any sighting so far,” Tindog said when contacted 1 p.m.

The search was launched after the Malaysian government informed the Philippines that a Malaysia Airlines plane went missing somewhere between the Philippines and Vietnam, she said.

The plane, a Boeing 777-200 aircraft coded as flight MH370, lost contact with the air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur 2:40 a.m., Malaysia Airlines said in a statement posted on its website.

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur 12:41 a.m. for Beijing, China.

The flight, piloted by Malaysian Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants, and 12 crew members, Malaysia Airlines said.

The passengers are citizens from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, France, the US, New Zealand, Ukraine, Canada, Russia, Italy, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Austria, the company said. (John Roson)

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