Missing Malaysian plane: Search expanded to land

(VOV) - Vietnam has expanded its search area for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft Boeing 777-200 ER to land after forces failed to find any trace of the wreckage at sea.

However, priority is given to the search in suspected territorial waters.

Lieutenant General Vo Van Tuan, deputy head of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, said soldiers and border guards were mobilised to comb through the area based on the flight path, stretching from Ca Mau province’s Hon Khoai island to Ho Chi Minh City.

The search area will also be widened to south-western, south-eastern, and south-central provinces, he said, adding targets will be less inhabited areas and forests. 

*** Vietnam on March 11 dispatched more helicopters to join international search and rescue work to scour for the missing Malaysian plane with 239 people on board.

At 07.00am, two helicopters Mi-171 departed from Ca Mau airport heading towards the located area where the Malaysian Airlines plane was reported missing on March 8.

Major General Do Minh Tuan, deputy commander of the Vietnam Air Defence and Air Force, said air forces will expand the search to the east of the area presently under examination.

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Maj. Gen. Do Minh Tuan said more aircraft will be deployed on March 11

Two aircraft AN26 took off from HCM City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport en route to the waters south of Kien Giang province’s Rach Gia city. Their search area stretches from 8-9 degrees North and 102-103 degrees East, about 150-300km southeast of Ca Mau airport.

Air Division 370 said on March 10 it sent out an additional helicopter Mi-171, raising its number of Mi-171 joining the mission to three.  

On March 8-9, Air Division 370 flew two sorties to spotted two suspected oil slicks and an orange life-vest at sea, but the trace of the missing Malaysian jet remains unknown.

*** At the headquarters of the command office established at Phu Quoc airport, Deputy Transport Minister Pham Quy Tieu chaired a meeting, discussing search options with relevant agencies and Kien Giang’s authorities.

He said navy ships reached the suspected debris, about 60km off Vung Tau coast, spotted by a Singaporean airliner on March 10, and found the object was not connected to the missing plane.

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The two search areas for Vietnamese forces

He proposed Kien Giang work out personnel and medical support plans just in case the wreckage of the missing plane and bodies of the passengers are found.

He also asked the province to enhance communications to ensure fishermen keep abreast of the case and contact the office if they discover any suspicious signs.

The Deputy Minister also asked the air force to conduct patrol sorties in the initially located area and deploy more aircraft to the expended search area. 

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*** Satellite VNREDSAT -1, Vietnam’s first remote sensing satellite, will be used to take pictures of the area where the Malaysian Airlines was reported missing.

VNREDSAT -1 is scheduled to traverse Kien Giang’s Tho Chu island at 11.00am on March 11 and it will transmit images to earth in the evening of the same day. 

(To be continued...)