ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
9 nations join hunt for missing Malaysian aircraft
KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 (Xinhua) -- A total of nine nations have so far joined the multinational efforts in search for a Malaysian Airlines jetliner that went missing Saturday morning on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board.
Over 40 hours after Flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, vanished over the South China Sea, Thai navy on Sunday night sent a vessel to help find the missing plane, Thai Prime Minister's Secretary General Suranand Vejjajiva said.
The vessel is expected to arrive near the Langkawi Island in Malaysia at 2:00 a.m. Monday, Suranand said, adding an aircraft will also be sent on Monday morning. This made the country the latest to join the multinational search mission.
Earlier in the day, Australia announced its air force will send two P-3C aircraft to join the hunt for the missing aircraft.
The first RAAF P-3C long-range maritime surveillance aircraft would leave for the search from Australia's northern city of Darwin Sunday night, reported local AAP news service.
Indonesia also said that it has engaged five navy vessels and a maritime surveillance plane to assist in search for the missing plane, which departed Kuala Lumpur at 0:41 a.m. (1641 GMT) Saturday and was due to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. (2230 GMT)the same day.
"Yes, we sent five vessels that consist of corvettes and speed patrol boats and also a maritime patrol plane," Indonesian Navy Spokesperson Untung Suropati was quoted by local media the vivanews.com as saying on Sunday.
Untung said that those Indonesian vessels and plane joined the mission on Sunday morning, adding "I had been told that our vessels have crossed the northern Malacca Strait boundary lines sometime between 10 and 11 a.m. this morning."
He said that the Indonesian navy vessels would focus their efforts in Malacca Strait and Penang.
Currently, a total of 34 aircraft and 40 ships are in hunt for the missing plane, with which the contact was lost along with radar signal at 1:20 a.m. local time on Saturday when it was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam, said Director General of Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman at a press conference Sunday evening.
Among them are those sent by Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam and China.
Chinese rescue vessel "Tai Shun Hai" of China Ocean Shipping ( Group) Company, arrived at the possible site at 9 a.m. Sunday and started searching, which was later joined by a Chinese coast guard vessel in the afternoon, according to China's Ministry of Transport.
More Chinese ships and aircraft are on the way to join the search and rescue mission, as Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed all-out efforts must be made for any emergency treatment necessary in the aftermath of the incident.
Two warships sent by the Chinese navy -- Destroyer Haikou and amphibious landing ship Kunlunshan -- set off at about 4:00 p.m. Sunday from two southern ports with a 50-strong marine corps as well as assault boats and rubber dinghies aboard, according to a statement released late Sunday by the People's Liberation Army ( PLA) Navy.
Meanwhile, two warships dispatched by the navy on early Sunday, Mianyang and Jinggangshan, are expected to reach the waters on Monday and Tuesday respectively, navy sources said.
With medical equipment and materials on board, two helicopters with the Nanhai Fleet joined Jinggangshan on its way for the search.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy said Saturday that it has dispatched a warship to assist in the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane.
The USS Pinckney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, carries two helicopters equipped for search and rescue. It is expected to reach the search area within 24 hours, the U.S. Navy confirmed on its website.
The U.S. Navy also said it is also deploying an Orion aircraft based in Okinawa, Japan. It will bring long-range search, radar and communications capabilities to the search mission.
As the ongoing search has yielded no results so far and the search area has been expanded, some countries including Vietnam and Singapore have moved to deploy more assets to help.
According to Malaysia Airlines, among the 227 passengers on board the missing plane, there were 154 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans. (Xinhua)
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