MARITIME RESCUE
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Malaysia Airlines flight 370

New possible sighting of debris at sea as China sends warships to join search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 11:45am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 March, 2014, 8:48pm

Photographs purporting to show debris in the sea in the area where the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 lost contact have been posted on Chinese social media.

The pictures, supposedly taken by a Chinese passenger on board another MA flight from Beijing which landed safely in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday morning, shows what appears to be fragmented debris floating on waters about 90 minutes out to sea from the Malaysian capital.

The poster, whose profile information says he is a banker working for China Minsheng Bank in Beijing, wrote that he took the snaps from his window at a height of 11,000 metres, at about 6.45am on Sunday. 

While it is not immediately clear what the suspected debris consisted of, the area where the passenger said he spotted it appears to be roughly consistent with where the missing plane lost contact with aviation authorities and where ships from Malaysia and Vietnam were already searching since Saturday afternoon.

Li Jiaxiang, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said at a press briefing on Sunday morning that some debris had been spotted, but it was unclear whether it came from the plane.

Vietnamese authorities said they had seen nothing close to two large oil slicks they saw Saturday and said might be from the missing plane.

None of the reported possible sightings so far have been confirmed to be from the Boeing 777-200 in the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam where the plane vanished from screens early Saturday morning. 

Malaysia’s civil aviation chief Azaharuddin Abdul Rahman said his country had expanded its area of operation to the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, on the other side of the country from where the plane disappeared. “This is standard procedure. If we can’t find it here, we go to other places,” he said.

Also on Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency said that two warships of the Chinese navy, "Jinggangshan" and "Mianyang", are on their way to sea area where missing Malaysia Airline flight MH 370 may have crashed.  

The Chinese navy vessel "Jinggangshan", an 20,000-tonne amphibious warship loaded with life-saving equipments, underwater detection facilities and supplies of water and food, set out from Zhanjiang city of south China 's Guangdong Province at about 3:00 am on Sunday, Xinhua said. The ship was also carrying two helicopters, 30 medical personnel, ten divers and 52 marines, and expected to arrive in the search area in Tuesday morning. 

Another Chinese navy vessel, the missile frigate "Mianyang", left for the possible crash site on Saturday night, and was expected to arrive early Monday morning. 

Reuters quoted Malaysia's Armed Forces chief as saying on Sunday afternoon that 40 ships and 22 aircraft were involved in the search for the missing plane. 

The Philippines has deployed three air force planes and three navy patrol ships to the area, Singapore sent a C130 Hercules aircraft and Vietnam and Malaysia also dispatched aircraft and marine rescue vessels. 

US 7th Fleet officials have said that a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Pinckney, and a P-3C Orion aircraft were being sent to help in the search  

State broadcaster CCTV said at noon on Sunday that the 4000-tonne China Coast Guard vessel, numbered 3411, was the first Chinese vessel to arrive on the search and rescue scene on Sunday, and was observing from a position of less than 40 nautical miles away from the core rescue area.

 

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