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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs  14 March 2014  

MISSING MAS FLIGHT: China tells Malaysia to quicken efforts to find plane

China urged Malaysia on Wednesday to accelerate its search and rescue work for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane and to strengthen coordination among search forces from different countries and regions.

"We won't give up as long as there is a shred of hope, and we urge Malaysia not to miss any clue and speed up search and rescue work," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

"We hope to enhance communication with Malaysia and strengthen coordination with search and rescue ships from other countries," Qin said.

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing early on Saturday with 239 people on board, including 154 Chinese nationals, when the Boeing 777-200 vanished from radar screens.

The multinational search entered its fifth day on Wednesday.

Nearly 40 aircraft and 42 ships from 12 countries and regions, including China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, are scouring the waters around the jet's last known location, but no substantive clues have been found. China has sent eight ships and several aircraft to help with the search.

Malaysia Airlines said search efforts have been extended to land.

A Chinese work team sent to Kuala Lumpur headed by Guo Shaochun, deputy director of consular affairs at the Foreign Ministry, held a three-hour meeting on Wednesday with the Chinese passengers' family members who arrived in the Malaysian capital.

Guo called on Malaysia to provide timely and accurate information to the family members, saying that items of information from various sources are quite complicated and sometimes contradictory.

"The Chinese work team requires a smooth flow of information be maintained. We will not leave until the aircraft is located," Guo said.

He Jianzhong, head of the China Maritime Search and Rescue Center, said Chinese vessels searching a suspected crash site are equipped with five helicopters and 12 professional divers.

The search area will be extended, he added.

Relatives in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur have been frustrated by a lack of accurate information.

Malaysia's ambassador to China, Iskandar Sarudin, met family members at the Lido Hotel in Beijing on Wednesday.

He said he will pass their demand to the Malaysian government that the country's military publicise information about its radar tracking of the aircraft before it vanished.

Malaysian authorities said earlier that air defence radar picked up traces of what might have been the plane turning back and flying until it reached the Strait of Malacca, a busy shipping lane west of the nation about 400km from the plane's last known coordinates.

Malaysia's Acting Transport Minister, Dato Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said on Wednesday the search has been expanded to two areas, Malacca and the South China Sea.

"We examined our military radar records for the new search area and discovered the possibility that MH370 had passed over the Straits of Malacca. We then dispatched ships and aircraft to search the new area," he said.

"Even if there is only a slight possibility, we decided it was imperative to extend the search to this area," he added.

The last radio transmission from the cockpit of the plane was "all right, good night", it emerged in Beijing on Wednesday.

One of the pilots said these words as the flight passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese airspace, according to Singapore's Straits Times newspaper, quoting Iskandar Sarudin, Malaysia's ambassador to China.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman later confirmed to Agence France-Presse that those were the last words from the cockpit.

Authorities have not ruled out any possible cause for the plane's disappearance, including mechanical failure, pilot error, sabotage and terrorism.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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