Vo Van Tuan, Deputy General Chief of Staff of Vietnam People's Army, talks to the press on Saturday
Vietnam has decided to end the week-long search mission for a missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner after Malaysia confirmed it has called off the hunt for wreckage around the scheduled flight path, a military officer said Saturday.
Vo Van Tuan, Deputy General Chief of Staff of the army, told reporters at the National Committee for Search and Rescue that the decision was made after Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia Nguyen Hong Thao confirmed Malaysian authorities' latest move.
Vietnam, however, is "ready to continue" the search in other areas if requested by Malaysia, he said.
Starting from tomorrrow March 16, Vietnamese search and rescue forces would return to their bases, Tuan said.
As of March 14, Vietnam had mobilized 11 airplanes which conducted 52 flights and 10 boats for the search efforts, according to Tuan.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 passengers and crew on board disappeared suddenly early last Saturday about an hour after taking off from the KL International Airport at 12.41 am. It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6.30 am the same day.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Saturday that investigators believe someone aboard the airliner deliberately shut off its communications and tracking systems, turned the plane around and flew for nearly seven hours after it vanished.
Shortly after the prime minister finished speaking police arrived at the home of the missing aircraft's pilot to search for evidence, a senior police official told Reuters.
As the unprecedented search for Flight MH370 and its 239 passengers and crew entered its second week, Najib told a news conference that the hunt for wreckage around the scheduled flight path to the east of Malaysia was being called off.
He said analysis of the plane's last communication with satellites placed it in one of two corridors: a northern corridor stretching from northern Thailand to the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, or a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.