Twenty Freescale Semiconductor employees were among the 239 passengers on board the Malaysian Airlines plane that went missing three days ago.
The chip manufacturer confirmed March 8 that 12 of the employees on the plane are from Malaysia and another eight from China. Flight 370, which was on its way from Kuala Lumpur to China, disappeared off radar screens about two hours into its flight March 7. Most of the employees were engineers who were working at the company’s facilities in Tianjin, China, and Kuala Lumpur, an official told Reuters.
An international search for the plane is under way, and indications of possible clues to its location—including oil slicks seen off the coast of Vietnam and reports of pieces of the plane—have since been discounted by investigators, according to reports. To this point, nothing from the plane has been found, and officials with Malaysia Airlines reportedly have been telling relatives to prepare for the worst.
Freescale President and CEO Gregg Lowe said in a statement that the company is “solely focused on our employees and their families. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by this tragic event.”
The chip maker, which is based in Austin, Texas, is offering employees impacted by the incident around-the-clock support from counselors and other health care professionals, officials said.
The investigation into the plane’s disappearance is getting help from a range of countries, including the United States, which has sent accident investigators and other experts from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Boeing, which built the 777-200ER airliner, reportedly also is helping with the investigation.
Authorities also are looking into two passengers on the plane who used stolen passports to get on the plane. Officials with Interpol said in a statement March 9 that the two people used Austrian and Italian passports that were stolen in Thailand in 2012 and 2013.
“Whilst it is too soon to speculate about any connection between these stolen passports and the missing plane, it is clearly of great concern that any passenger was able to board an international flight using a stolen passport listed in Interpol’s databases,” Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said in a statement.