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MISSING MAS FLIGHT: Nations lend help to find missing M'sia Airlines flight

Publication Date : 09-03-2014

 

Asian neighbours lend air force and navy services to scour South China Sea; US sends FBI and planes to assist investigations

 

Among others, Vietnam and China deploy vessels to scour South China Sea; S'pore lends airforce and navy services; US sends FBI and planes to assist investigations

Several countries are offering their assistance in the search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines’ Beijing-bound plane which went missing, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Najib said that China and Vietnam had deployed vessels to scour the South China Sea while Singapore has offered the services of its Air Force aircraft to Malaysia.

He said that the United States’ navy aircraft has also offered to take part in the operations which concentrate mainly off Vietnam waters.

“At the same time, our military are also actively involved in the search and rescue operations for MH370,” he told a media conference.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force has despatched 15 aircraft while the navy had sent out six vessels to conduct search in the Malaysian waters, he said.

Najib said no wreckage had been found so far and the rescue operations would continue for as long as it was necessary.

The prime minister, his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin, Defence and acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Liow Tiong Lai were earlier briefed by MAS and Department of Commercial Aviation on the situation.

Najib and Muhyiddin also met with family members of the flight passengers who were waiting anxiously at the KL International Airport.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families. MAS has extended assistance to them, including providing emotional support and travelling arrangements,” he added.

Najib said the authorities would look at all possibilities as to how and why the plane had gone off radar.

“There are too many theories but we do not want to indulge in speculations. Our main focus now should be on the search and rescue efforts,” he said when asked if hijacking and terrorism could be reasons for the aircraft’s disappearance.

The prime minister said he had spoken to the prime minister of China, Li Keqiang, and had offered Malaysia’s condolences as 153 passengers on board the flight were Chinese nationals.

At Kajang, MCA has also expressed its concern for the passengers of MH370, with party president Liow Tiong Lai saying his thoughts were with the family of the passengers. He said some passengers on board the flight, that consisted of artists and calligraphers from China, had visited Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

“I was not around the office, but my officers managed to see them and had a cordial discussion about Malaysia and China artists groups.

“Unfortunately, they were in the plane that is missing now. We hope the airplane will be recovered as soon as possible.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had also called Najib to offer support.

Earlier in the day, Bernama reported that Najib had asked that “all possible measures be taken” to locate the aircraft.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family members of Flight MH370,” Najib tweeted.

Meanwhile, the US government is sending the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) team to assist in investigating the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, based on the American citizenship of three of the passengers aboard the lost flight, LA Times reported Sunday.

A top federal law enforcement official in Washington said that a fourth passenger, whom he described as an infant flying with three Americans, also might be a US citizen.

"This gives us entree to the case," the official said, speaking confidentially because the FBI investigation was just beginning.

"But so far what happened is a mystery," he added.

On early Saturday morning, the flight carrying 239 passenger including 12 crewmembers was heading to Beijing but went missing at 1.30am, less than an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The Boeing 777-200ER did not send out any distress signal and its last known position was 120 nautical miles of Kota Baru.

The plane was due to arrive in Beijing at 6.30am.

Though two passengers were reportedly used stolen passports, a US senior counter terrorism official said there was no indication that it was a terrorist attack.

It was reported that there were two impostors on board, both with passports that were stolen in Thailand.

Italian Luigi Maraldi, whose name is on the manifest, was not on the missing flight and he is now in Thailand.

 

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