Oil Slicks Show that Malaysia Airlines Flight Most Likely Crashed, But Frantic Search Continues

As the desperate search continues for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that went missing yesterday, an oil slick sighted between Malaysia and Vietnam on Saturday is potentially the first sign that the plane may indeed have crashed. Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft — which was carrying 239 people, including three Americans— mid-flight yesterday: the plane left Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 12:41 am local time Saturday and was scheduled to land in Beijing at 6:30, but, according to the deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, it "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control."

A 12-mile long oil slick — essentially, a film of oil on the surface of the water — was found between southern Vietnam and northern Malaysia, the New York Times reported Saturday morning, most likely showing that the plane plunged into the ocean. The Associated Press also reported two oil slicks spotted south of the island of Tho Chu in the Gulf of Thailand. Although it's still not clear whether the slicks are actually connected to the Malaysia Airlines disappearance, they are apparently the type that would come out of an aircraft.

“An AN26 aircraft of the Vietnam Navy has discovered an oil slick about 20 kilometers in the search area, which is suspected of being a crashed Boeing aircraft — we have announced that information to Singapore and Malaysia and we continue the search,” the director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam told the Times.

The water hunt for the missing airplane will continue, but Malaysia Airlines has said it'll put the air search on hold until the morning, local time. "The sea mission will continue while the air mission will recommence at daylight," the company said in a statement.