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Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: Debris found near Vietnam's Tu Chao island not from plane, says Malaysian official

Published on Mar 9, 2014 10:06 PM
 
Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Director General Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman speaks at a news conference at a hotel near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang March 9, 2014. The search operations for the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner has widened on Sunday from 20 to 50 nautical miles, as there is still no sign of the plane which vanished over 40 hours ago. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

THE search operations for the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner has widened on Sunday from 20 to 50 nautical miles, as there is still no sign of the plane which vanished over 40 hours ago.

Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said on Sunday night that the debris found near Vietnam's Tu Chao island was not from the missing plane.

Oil spills have been found but it has not been confirmed if they came from the plane. There are now 24 aircraft and 40 ships in a massive multi-national search operation. The air search was stopped at 7pm but the ships will continue searching through the night.

"We are not ruling out any possibility," Mr Azharuddin said, with reference to potential hijacking after two passengers boarded the MH370 flight with passports stolen from an Italian and an Austrian whose names appeared on the manifest.

Mr Azharuddin declined to disclose the nationalities or describe the appearance of the men who checked in with the fake passports.

Asked about claims that a Chinese group has claimed responsibility for the missing plane, he said China has not informed Malaysia about it.

The Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 to Beijng had lost contact with Subang Air Traffic Control 50 minutes after departing KLIA at 1241am on Saturday.

It was due to land in Beijing at 630am, and had enough fuel to fly till 830am. The plane did not issue a distress signal nor was there bad weather when it disappeared.

The flight was carrying a total number of 239 people - comprising 227 passengers (including 2 infants) and 12 crew members.

Passengers from 14 nations and Taiwan were on board, the majority being Chinese nationals and Malaysians. No Singaporean was on board.

Flight MH370 was operated on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, a codeshare with China Southern Airlines.

Malaysia said the search would go on round the clock until a decision is made to call it off.

The next press conference is scheduled at noon on Monday.

carolynh@sph.com.sg

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