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SE Asia
 

Missing MAS plane: Vietnam's rescue planes spot oil slicks

Published on Mar 8, 2014 9:11 PM
 
An information screen displays a message "Let Us Pray For Flight MH370" at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, March 8, 2014. The Vietnamese government said its search team has reported sighting of oil slicks that could be from the jet engines of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, as several nations searched waters off South-east Asia on Saturday, March 8, 2014, after the jet carrying 239 passengers disappeared. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The Vietnamese government said its search team has reported sighting of oil slicks that could be from the jet engines of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane, as several nations searched waters off Southeast Asia on Saturday after the jet carrying 239 passengers disappeared.

Search pilots spotted two possible oil slicks, each 10 to 15km in length and about 140km south of Tho Chu island off southern Vietnam, according to a statement on the Vietnamese government website.

An official of the Vietnam's State Search and Rescue Commission has earlier said a filmy substance that appeared to be oil was spotted on water surface over a stretch of about 20 km, Xinhua reported.

The missing flight was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members from 14 nations, Malaysian Airlines said.

Frustrated officials and passengers' families struggled to make sense of the disappearance of the Boeing 777-200 which - like the Malaysian national carrier - has a solid safety record.

The plane's disappearance triggered a search effort involving vessels from several nations with rival maritime claims in the tense South China Sea.

China, which had 153 of its nationals on the plane, said it ordered maritime patrol vessels to begin scouring the area.

Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines said they threw aircraft and vessels into the effort, and Singapore dispatched an air force C130 transport plane to the region.

Malaysian premier Najib Razak said the US navy also had agreed to send planes to help.

Overlapping claims to the South China Sea, a resource-rich, vital shipping lane, have been a growing source of friction between China and its neighbours.

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