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Vietnam resumes search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane after temporary suspension

Published on Mar 12, 2014 8:39 PM
 
Search and rescue aircrafts belonging to Vietnam Air Force are seen at a military airport in Ho Chi Minh city March 12, 2014. Vietnam resumed full scale air and sea searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane on Wednesday, March 11, 2014, after announcing in the morning that it was scaling back pending information from Malaysia about a new direction of the multi-nation hunt. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Vietnam resumed full scale air and sea searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane on Wednesday, after announcing in the morning that it was scaling back pending information from Malaysia about a new direction of the multi-nation hunt.

It could even ramp up the search on Thursday, Vietnamese navy deputy commander Le Minh Thanh said on Wednesday evening.

The flip flop was a result of reports that the plane was detected by Malaysian military radar over the Strait of Malacca, away from South China Sea waters off southern Vietnam being scoured by its ships and helicopters.

It caused Vietnamese deputy minister of transport Pham Quy Tieu to announce on Wednesday morning a temporary suspension of most search activities.

That evening though, Rear Admiral Thanh told reporters that the Vietnamese government still had not received any direct confirmation from Kuala Lumpur, but was resuming its search because of news that Malaysian authorities had denied reports about MH370's Malacca Strait course.

"We will continue our search tomorrow, like we did today," he told a room packed with reporters at an airport in the south Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc.

The plane was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, mostly Chinese and Malaysian nationals, when it disappeared early on Saturday morning. At least 10 countries, including China, Singapore, Thailand and United States, have been involved in the hunt in the South China Sea, which has drawn a blank.

Hopes were high initially that the plane could be found off Vietnam. Vietnamese authorities set up a search coordination centre on Phu Quoc island, where local and international reporters have been camped out in anticipation of result.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai had also ordered a round-the-clock search for the missing jetliner.

tanhy@sph.com.sg

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