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Multinational rescue efforts launched for vanished Malaysian Airlines plane

2014-03-08 16:39 Xinhua Web Editor: Wang Fan

Multinational rescue efforts have been launched to try and locate a Malaysian Airlines plane that lost contact with air traffic control early Saturday, two hours after take off in Kuala Lumpur.

Flight MH370, a Boeing B777-200 aircraft carrying 239 people, departed Kuala Lumpur at 0:41 am (1641GMT) Saturday and was due to land in Beijing at 6:30 am (2230GMT).

Malaysia Airlines said on its website that on board the plane were 12 crew members and 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has been informed by Vietnamese civil aviation authorities that Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore are conducting a joint search south of Vietnam's Tho Chu Islands.

China has dispatched two maritime rescue ships to the South China Sea to help in rescue work.

"The last known position of MH370 before it disappeared off the radar was 065515 North (longitude) and 1033443 East (latitude)," Malaysia Airlines said in its latest statement.

The airliner said the company was working with international authorities on the search and rescue mission.

Malaysia Airlines group chief executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said the missing aircraft made its last contact about 200 km east of the Malaysian town of Kota Baru.

"We have contacted both the Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities as it is actually the borderline of Malaysian airspace and Vietnam," he told a press conference, adding there had been no indication the plane was in distress.

Malaysian Transport Minister Hishamuddin Hussein said no sign of any plane wreckage had been found, denying earlier media reports that the plane had crashed south of an island off Vietnam. Vietnam's Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper said that the Malaysian aircraft had crashed into waters off Vietnam's southern Phu Quoc Island.

Hishamuddin said the Malaysian government had contacted the departments of maritime affairs of China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia to jointly search for the vanished plane.

Malaysian authorities dispatched a plane, two helicopters and four vessels to search seas off its east coast in the South China Sea, said Faridah Shuib, a spokesperson for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Vietnam's defence ministry has also launched a search, a statement on the official Vietnamese government website said.

"The plane lost contact near Ca Mau province airspace as it was preparing to transfer to Ho Chi Minh City air traffic control," an AFP report quoted the statement as saying. Ca Mau province is in the southernmost part of Vietnam's inland territory.

Its signal never appeared to Ho Chi Minh City controllers, it added.

Singapore has sent a C130 Hercules aircraft for a search and locate mission for the missing plane, the city-state's air force said Saturday, while the Philippine military said it had dispatched naval and air assets to join the international efforts.

Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, the public information office chief of the Philippine military, said the Armed Forces of the Philippines has mobilized its naval assets, particularly the BRP Del Pilar (PF 15), BRP Jacinto (PS 35), and BRP Mabini (PS 36), along with a surveillance plane, to conduct search operations in some areas of the South China Sea and the sealanes of the western Philippine province of Palawan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday stressed all-out efforts must be made for any emergency treatment necessary in the aftermath of the incident.

Xi ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Chinese embassies and consulates to strengthen contact with departments of relevant countries and pay close attention to the search and rescue work.

The Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Administration must launch emergency measures immediately and enhance security checks to ensure the "absolute safety" of China's civil aviation operation, according to the president.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng met with Malaysian Charge d'affaires to China Bala Chandran Tharman and Vietnamese Ambassador to China Nguyen Van Tho Saturday afternoon over the missing plane.

Yang Chuantang, Chinese Minister of Transport, announced the launch of the highest-degree emergency response mechanism.

The ministry is closely observing the incident and actively coordinating with domestic authorities as well as maritime rescue authorities and civil aviation administrations in Malaysia and Vietnam.

Eight ships belonging to the Nanhai Rescue Bureau and the Hainan Maritime Safety Administration are waiting for orders. An aircraft fleet is also ready to take off.


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