KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's maritime agency said late on Tuesday (Aug 22) it has found a body just 7.5 nautical miles away from the site of the USS John S. McCain's collision off Singapore a day earlier.
The body is believed to be one of the 10 US sailors who had been missing after the USS John S McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, collided with an oil tanker on Monday morning.
The body was found in Malaysian waters at 3.43pm by the crew of naval ship KD Handalan, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's (MMEA) said in a statement. The authorities said the body will be handed over to the US on Wednesday.
This latest development came after Malaysian authorities expanded the area of its search for the missing US sailors by more than threefold on Tuesday.
"The search and rescue sector is broken down today to two main sectors - sea and air. The sea search covers 352 square nautical miles while the air area covers 488 square nautical miles," MMEA's Admiral Zulkifli Abu Bakar said in an earlier statement.
The search area covered by Malaysia on Monday, when the US warship collided with an oil tanker off Singapore, was 100 nautical square miles or 343 sq km.
Datuk Zulkifli said the US had requested Malaysia to contribute two of its aircrafts to conduct the search in Malaysian waters.
"The two aircrafts are MH60-Seahawk and MV-22 Osprey. MMEA has informed via POTU (the Air Force Operations Centre) that the request has been approved this afternoon".
The maritime agency said that assets from Singapore and Indonesia were involved with the search and rescue but that their operations were limited to areas within its own borders.
Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that Malaysia armed forces have deployed six vessels and two helicopters as part of the search and rescue efforts.
"They (the US) appreciate the initiative by our air force and navy. In times of need they know who their true friends are and who are giving them lip service," Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said, according to The Star.
The collision with tanker Alnic MC had tore a hole on the side of the USS John S McCain, flooding compartments. It's the fourth major accident this year involving the US Pacific fleet, sparking a fleet-wide investigation.